Slov-Matic Fofo Bratislava are celebrating a place in Tuesday's UEFA Futsal Cup Elite round draw – while Araz Naxçivan are coming to terms with their narrow exit.
Going into the final day in Main round Group 3 in Azerbaijan, hosts Araz trailed second-placed Bratislava only on goal difference. In an exciting encounter, Araz led 3-1 with nine minutes left but Voitech Várady, Gabriel Bartošek and Peter Haľko struck to give the Slovakian side a dramatic victory and a place in the Elite round along with group winners Luparense Calcio A5.
Bratislava coach Milan Kollár, whose club had fallen at the first hurdle in their two previous campaigns, said: "This is marvellous. I thank my players for the effort they put into this game. We believed in ourselves and tried with all our hearts until the final whistle." Araz president Zaur Akhiundov was more downbeat, saying: "Our players did a wonderful job and with the support of the crowd, we thought we had finally made it. It is so painful. It is a real pity. We will have to try again next year."
Among the crowd were Russian futsal legend Arkadiy Belyi, who after retirement went on to coach Araz and returned to Baku for this mini-tournament. He expressed delight at the competition, which this year has entries from 43 UEFA member nations. "The current map of countries playing futsal, and the record participation in this edition of the UEFA Futsal Cup, prove that everybody's efforts have played a crucial role in the expansion of futsal," Belyi told uefa.com. "I want to contribute in any way that may be required, and being in Baku is a pleasure for me."
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