UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 hosts Croatia look in good shape under new coach Mato Stanković after winning the first Mediterranean Futsal Cup, prevailing in a penalty shoot-out against hosts Libya.
Croatia defeated Slovenia 7-3 to reach the final, with France missing out after losing 2-1 to Libya with a goal 26 seconds from time. Player of the tournament Dario Marinović gave Croatia the half-time lead in the final but Basher Bader levelled for Pablo Prieto's African champions to the delight of nearly 6,000 home fans. Goalkeeper Ivo Jukić kept the hosts out in extra time and then excelled in the shoot-out, saving all four Libya efforts as Croatia triumphed 2-0.
Jukić said: "It was a great final, with two teams friendly off the pitch. On the pitch it was a great battle and in the end we had a bit more luck and won the championship. It was a great feeling [to save four penalties]. I was in Libya for two months coaching their goalkeepers so I knew some of the players and how they shot; and I had some luck."
Slovenia, who played in the 2010 EURO finals last January, defeated France 4-2 for third place, but it was a creditable performance for Les Bleus, whose ranking means they will start 2012 qualifying in the preliminary round. Bosnia and Herzegovina finished fifth with a 5-2 win against Tunisia while Turkey edged Greece 8-7 on penalties after a 3-3 draw to come ninth. Albania beat Algeria 3-1 for 11th but Cyprus came 14th following a shoot-out loss to Syria. Malta's 3-1 win against Palestine earned Vic Hermans's side 15th.
Other than Croatia, assured of a finals place, the other European entrants will take part in 2012 qualifying early next year. Turkey, Greece, Malta, Albania, Cyprus and France all start in the preliminary round in January, hoping to join Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the following month's qualifying round.
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