Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
In the six seasons since the UEFA Futsal Cup finals became a four-team event, Kairat have been there three times and have made four semis in all. After falling in last season's elite round, they hope their mixture of Brazilians and young local talent will get them through this time. "The main thing I want to avoid is hearing all the time that we were really lucky with the draw," coach João Barbosa said. "KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac, FK EP Chrudim and Slov-Matic Bratislava are serious opponents; they went through the main round, where they met really strong sides."
Main round: bye
Key players: Leo Santana, Fumasa, Dinmukhambet Suleimenov.
KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac (SRB, hosts)
Having got close to the finals for the last two seasons, Ekonomac believe that they are ready to take that final step. They will host Group B of the elite round with an eye on securing first place. "It is too early and not in the spirit of sport to say, but we really expect to win our group," said coach Ivan Božović. "We live for that, we spent the last few months preparing and have a quality squad, ready for success. Of course, we must prove everything during the three matches, but I am optimistic. The supporters are also our advantage, the hall will be full."
His squad contains Serbian internationals Miodrag Aksentijević, the goalkeeper, Vidan Bojović, Slobodan Rajčević, Slobodan Janjić and key man Mladen Kocić. With Brazilians Daniel de Souza and Rudolpho da Kosta in the mix, Ekonomac are strong. Indeed, they beat the remainder of the Serbia squad 7-4, 8-2 and 6-4 last week in Italy, where the national team are on a pre-FIFA Futsal World Cup training camp.
Main round: Vegakameratene 6-2, KMF Zelezarec Skopje 8-1, FK Nikars Riga 4-3 (Group 2 winners)
Key players: Miodrag Aksentijević, Mladen Kocić, Daniel de Souza
Slov-Matic Bratislava (SVK)
The Slovakian champions, now only containing players from their country since the departure of Czech duo David Frič and Zdeněk Sláma, are in this stage for the fifth time but would be happy with a single point. "We should be happy that we were able to advance to this phase again, because that was our main goal," coach Ján Janík told UEFA.com. "Maybe we are the only team in the whole competition without foreign players.
"The finals are something unrealistic for us. We have to keep our feet on the ground. But for me is better to play with Chrudim or Kragujevac than Barcelona. Because with them we have a chance. It wasn't a bad draw, though Almaty will certainly be huge favourites.”
Main round: AC Omonia 3-3, Luparense C/5 0-0, FC Grand Pro Varna 7-2 (Group 1 runners-up)
Key players: Mário Gašparovič, Dušan Rafaj, Ladislav Mikita
FK EP Chrudim (CZE)
Chrudim, who claimed their eighth Czech title last season, are in their sixth elite round and have begun superbly in the league this year. They also got through the main round at home with their Brazilian-infused squad coached by Cacau, part of the Kairat team in 2008 that beat Chrudim to the finals. Like Kairat and Ekonomac, they fancy their chances.
"Our aim is to progress, but we know a hard job is in front of us," Cacau told UEFA.com. "We start against a strong home team and then we face the top seeded team of Kairat Almaty who I consider favourites. We are going to fight, we have a good team that will be well prepared for this phase." Douglas, Marek Kopecký and Lukáš Rešetár have recovered from injuries and will be ready to play at the tournament.
Main round: Energy Lviv 3-2, KMF Leotar Trebinje 4-0, City'US Târgu Mureş 4-5 (Group 3 runners-up)
Key players: Roman Mareš, Tomáš Meller, Lukáš Rešetár
Reporters: Aydyn Kozhakhmetov, Aleksandar Bošković, Rastislav Hríbik & Ondřej Zlámal
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.