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Former Kairat Almaty player Cacau is celebrating leading the club to UEFA Futsal Cup glory less than three months after returning to take charge of a side with "very low" morale.
Kairat beat MFK Dinamo 4-3 in a thrilling showpiece in which two late goals for the Russian side so nearly wiped out their lead in Tbilisi. The club from Kazakhstan held on, however, and having previously overcome FC Barcelona 5-4 in the semi-finals, Cacau and Alexandre Moraes marvelled at beating "the two best teams in a row".
I think the key was to lead the match in the last ten minutes. We have faced the best teams in the world – the champions and the runners-up last year. If we had had a little more composure, the score could have been better. But I think the dramatic ending makes it even more beautiful.
The most important thing was the unity of the squad. When I arrived, morale was very low. I took Betão and Euler and talked to them. Joan too – since my arrival, he has been key in my tactics. Joan and Higuita were the keys to getting to the final. But everybody, including Leo, Leo Santana ... The important thing is the collective.
Kazakh futsal deserves this title for all that's been done in recent years. They have invested a lot to get a title. I want to thank all the players, the fans and especially the people of Kazakhstan.
When I arrived, I didn't expect to win. But I studied Barcelona for a month. I studied Barcelona like nobody. I've seen all their matches. And I saw they were in trouble when they defended. So the key was Higuita. But most importantly, we defended really well. The squad wanted to be champions and showed joy on the court. You have to have joy, desire and unity. Those are the keys of Kairat's success.
Alexandre Moraes, Western Union man of the match
The game was balanced. Cacau gave us the keys to winning the game. I think Barcelona and Dinamo are the two best teams in the world. We came here knowing that, but confident of reaching the final. I knew our team was very good. The squad was aware of the difficulties, but everyone knew what to do at the right time.
Dinmukhambet Suleimenov, captain
I have no words to describe this; I'm just full of emotions. We are very happy. I am repeating myself, but it was really the match of our lives. Finally, we have fulfilled our dream after five years of trying. We finally did it in Tbilisi. I have no idea when we will be able to win the UEFA Cup again. I would like to thank all the people who took part in reaching this milestone.
It's very prestigious to win a tournament like this. It's a great promotion of futsal. Everyone saw this; a lot of channels broadcast the match, so I think this will help us to bring futsal in Kazakhstan to another level.
When we were leading 4-1, I think we lost concentration a little bit, which resulted in Higuita's mistake, although we were able to pick ourselves up afterwards and finish on a high note. Of course, when Dinamo found themselves back in the game, we were disappointed. We were desperate not to concede another goal and in the end we succeeded. Now we are going to celebrate this achievement like crazy.
Joan, former Dinamo forward
During my whole time at Kairat, I've kept telling our president there would be a day when we play in the final and win. And that's what's happened. I spent some time at Dinamo, so I knew a lot of their players. I explained to our young players the tactics of our opponents and this helped us to take the lead.
I've also played for Iberia [Star Tbilisi], when they were in the UEFA Futsal Cup; however, unfortunately we were not able to qualify for the elite round that time. But now I am at Kairat and our team is much better now after signing some experienced players. I hope we will be able to grow from this and become regular finalists.
I was happy to find out the finals would be played in Tbilisi, because I know the city quite well. I have a lot of friends here and from now on I will love Tbilisi even more, because here I've experienced the happiest day of my whole life.
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