The race for the five places on offer in the 2007 UEFA European Futsal Championship main qualifying round will go to the final day of preliminary round action on Sunday.
Twelve teams are competing in three mini-tournament groups and although the qualifying picture became a little clearer after today's second matchday, none of the sections has yet been decided. In all, the three winners of groups A, B and C and the two best runners-up will go through to join élite nations like holders Spain in the next stage.
In Group A, Albania were definitely eliminated after a 5-3 defeat by Armenia while Finland drew 5-5 with Turkey to leave both teams on four points, although the latter have the edge on goal difference. Debutants Turkey will now take on Armenia, who are a point behind in third place, and mini-tournament hosts Finland will meet Albania, who have only pride to play for.
England and Bulgaria were both eliminated after suffering their second straight Group B defeats, 5-1 and 8-3 respectively against Latvia and mini-tournament hosts Romania. England's reverse was particularly tough as they dominated the first half but could not break the deadlock. Latvia then struck five goals from five different scorers - Antons Bakanins, Dmitrijs Zabarovskis, Blazovs, Igors Lapkovskis and Andrejs Aleksejevs - between the 21st and 28th minutes to take full control. It means England and Bulgaria will meet in a battle for third place while Latvia and Romania, both on six points, will duel for top spot, with a draw enough for the home team by virtue of their superior goal difference. A point could also take Latvia through, depending on results elsewhere.
It was a similar story in Group C. Kazakhstan recorded the day's biggest success with a 13-0 win against mini-tournament hosts Malta. The victory included hat-tricks for Alexandr Bondarev, Dulat Abdrakhmanov and Stanislav Kozin. Consequently, Kazakhstan top the standings on goal difference from Cyprus, who won 4-1 against Georgia, thanks largely to two goals from Manolis Manoli. Both of today's winners have six points and their meeting in the third and final set of fixtures will determine who secures pole position. Kazakhstan need only a draw while, as with Group B, a point could be enough for Cyprus to go through in second place depending on results elsewhere. All will be decided on Sunday.
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