UEFA European Futsal Championship hosts Hungary continued their build-up to January's finals by finishing third in a four-team tournament involving Brazil, Slovakia and Croatia.
World champions triumph
Brazil, who regained the FIFA Futsal World Cup from Spain in Rio de Janeiro last year, clinched first place in Budapest with an 8-1 defeat of Hungary, who had earlier won 5-3 against Croatia and lost 4-1 to Slovakia, two teams who missed out on qualifying for the EURO finals as best runners-up by a single goal behind Serbia. Although the hosts' experimental lineups experienced mixed results, the enthusiastic capacity crowd appreciated Brazil's efforts and that bodes well for the European finals from 19 to 30 January next year.
Hungary made a tremendous start to their opening game, leading Croatia 3-0 at the break through Tamás Lódi, Norbert Temesi and Tamás Szente. Frane Despotović and Tihomir Novak pulled Croatia to within a goal but in the last five minutes Karoly Kovacsics and János Trencsényi put Hungary out of reach prior to Dario Marinović's consolation. A Brazil squad largely made up of Spanish-based players took the Matchday 1 lead with a 5-1 defeat of Slovakia.
The next day Hungary's hopes were effectively ended by Slovakia. Tomáš Bagin and Peter Kozár struck early in each half and Ákos Harnisch's own goal made it 3-0. Lódi pulled one back for the hosts but Anton Brunovský had the final word. Brazil moved three points clear in the table as they claimed a 3-0 victory against Croatia.
It was always going to be tough for Hungary against a Brazil side containing four of their World Cup final lineup and so it proved as Fernandinho scored twice in the first eleven minutes, and he claimed another two goals after Kovacsics pulled one back at the start of the second half. ElPozo Murcia FS player Wilde, Igor, Interviú Madrid's Betao and Lukaian of MRA Navarra FS completed Brazil's victory, while Slovakia beat Croatia 3-1 for second place. Top scorer Fernandinho was named player of the tournament while Hungary's Zoltán Balázs won the best goalkeeper prize.
Mihály Kozma, whose Hungary side began 2009 with second place in a tournament in Libya where they held the home team 2-2 and beat Albania 8-2, said: "It was a successful tournament for us as we were able to test some new players in a competitive tournament and we gained a lot of important experiences. We are closer to knowing the squad for the finals." Hungary will discover their European finals opposition when the draw is made at 16.00CET on 24 September at the Kölcsey Convention Centre, Debrecen, one of two host cities along with Budapest.
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