Two Russian teams will take part in the UEFA Futsal Cup final four from 24-26 April, but while holders MFK Dinamo Moskva are old hands in the latter stages of this competition, MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg are celebrating progress on their European debut.
Ekaterinburg gained entry as league runners-up behind European champions Dinamo, and the Russian title-holders' record in this competition meant the newcomers, despite never having played in the UEFA Futsal Cup before, were one of four teams seeded to the Elite round. Hosting Group D at their impressive Palace of Sports, Ekaterinburg won a tough mini-tournament with a match to spare by beating Ukraine's SK Energia 2-1 and Romania's CIP Deva 10-3, and celebrated with a 3-1 defeat of Israeli champions Hapoel Ironi Rishon Lezion – giving them the best overall record of the Elite round.
They will be joined in the semi-final draw by Dinamo, ElPozo Murcia FS and Kairat Almaty, and Ekaterinburg president Grigori Ivanov is delighted with their progress. "It is invaluable experience for our young players," he said. "Of course, we got lucky with the draw to some extent as we did not have to play against the top teams. But still, Viz-Sinara are one of Russia's best teams. Our league and Spain's are the strongest in Europe, so we had to progress."
One of the four finalists will stage the event next spring, but Ivanov says he does not yet know if Ekaterinburg will again wish to act as hosts as they did for the Elite round. "We have not thought about that yet," he said. "Now we need to catch our breath a bit. Then we will meet with the coaches and players to decide whether we want to make our bid."
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