After four UEFA Futsal Cup semi-final defeats, Kairat Almaty not only went one better last season by beating holders FC Barcelona, they then saw off FC Dynamo in the decider.
Key to that success was Fumasa, a hat-trick scorer against Barcelona and also on target in the final, hosted by his former club Iberia Star Tbilisi. Now Baku is the destination as Kairat defend their trophy with Dynamo awaiting in Thursday's semi-final. The 28-year-old spoke to UEFA.com about their triumph in Tbilisi and their ambitions for Baku.
UEFA.com: Thinking back to last April, what did it mean for you to lift the trophy?
Fumasa: It was very important to me. I had been trying for four or five years to reach the final. When I arrived at Kairat the club were already used to being in the final stages of the competition and it was an extra motivation for me to qualify with the team and to think of winning the title. When we knew our opponents in the final stage, everybody thought the winners would be Dynamo or Barcelona. But we worked very hard with the title in mind, as it turned out. It was very important for the country as well.
UEFA.com: What was your highlight of the tournament?
Fumasa: The end of the game against Barcelona. When the match ended, me and my team-mates knew instantly that we could win the title against Dynamo.
UEFA.com: You scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against Barcelona, many people's favourites to lift the title. What was your game plan for that match?
Fumasa: We tried to be very good on marking. We'd studied Barcelona very well as we knew any lapse of concentration could lead to a goal. We did concede goals but we were able to fight back.
UEFA.com: You also struck in the final to finish as top scorer in Tbilisi. How did that feel?
Fumasa: It was a glorious moment for me, a major achievement. I still do not believe what I've accomplished. This year I am not worried about scoring more goals as I am committed to helping the team like I did in the last finals. The goals came naturally.
UEFA.com: How tense were the last minutes of the final in Tbilisi, when Dynamo got it back to 4-3?
Fumasa: It took me back to when we were in Moscow [in the 2011/12 elite round], when Dynamo made it 2-2 near the end to qualify for the semi-finals. However this time around our will to win was greater. Our team were very united and it was a glorious moment in the end.
UEFA.com: What was the atmosphere like for the final?
Fumasa: We looked our opponents in the eyes. Apart from that everybody within our team believed we could win the trophy. The coach, the directors and the president all believed in us. In the hotel before the game we had a winning spirit and everybody helped each other in order to win the game. Before the game, Leo Santana asked me how I felt, and I told him: "Leo, the cup is ours." We had a great amount of confidence.
UEFA.com: What changes has former player Cacau made since returning to the club as coach before last year's finals?
Fumasa: Before Cacau, the players did not have freedom. We did not have the chance to explain our views. In my opinion, in order to win the Futsal Cup, we needed more freedom and that was an important factor with Cacau. He is a friend of the players as he understands us – he was a top player himself.
UEFA.com: How does this team compare with last year's?
Fumasa: This year the team is being rebuilt. Last season the team was five years in the making. Now there are some new players arriving as they are getting used to Cacau's methods, like Rubinho, Café and Caio Júnior. It is a very different team compared with last season. However, it has great quality and will not feel the pressure of being holders.
UEFA.com: How much are you looking forward to a reunion with Dynamo? What are their strengths?
Fumasa: As always, Cirilo but also Fernandinho, a great forward. Romulo is very strong at marking and their coach has a deep knowledge of our team. It will be a very difficult tie.
UEFA.com: Goalkeeper Higuita became well-known in Europe last April – how important is he as a player and as a personality in the squad?
Fumasa: He is an honest person and a hard-working professional who trains hard. He is always talking with us for the good of the team. It is like he says: "If the team helps me I can help the team." He is a key player for us.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.