The expansion of the UEFA European Futsal Championship finals from eight to 12 teams has brought a thumbs-up from the coaches at the tournament in Hungary. Alongside established contenders such as Spain and Italy, two sides qualified for the finals for the first time – Belarus and an Azerbaijan team who reached the semi-finals – while Belgium and Slovenia returned to the fray after seven-year absences. uefa.com spoke to some of the coaches about the new format.
Of course it is a good idea. In the past we have always seen the traditionally strong teams, like Ukraine and Italy, qualify and reach the semi-finals, but now we have sides like Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic getting through, which shows what a good idea it was.
José Venancio López, Spain
We know that futsal in Europe is getting better and better. I think it is a step forward to have evolved from eight to 12 teams. I believe it is going to be beneficial to the game. We have gained four matches, basically the quarter-finals, under the new format and we have seen futsal at its highest level. This will benefit European futsal. It is a great initiative.
Gennadiy Lysenchuk, Ukraine
It was a very good decision to change format and extend the tournament to 12 teams. I spoke with Belarus and Azerbaijan, who are debutants here, and they have had extra money for preparation and much more attention in their countries, all of which helps futsal.
Aca Kovačević, Serbia
The system is more exciting than it was, because there are only two games between the group stage and the quarter-finals and then the knockout ties are one-off matches so there can always be surprises. Favourites are not such big favourites in a one-off game.
Roberto Menichelli, Italy
On the one hand it promotes and stimulates futsal, on the other it has let in teams that have never played in a European Championship so one-sided results could happen. I think, however, that having 12 teams in the European Championship will help to further promote the sport.
Orlando Duarte, Portugal
The quality of futsal has improved in recent years and organisations like UEFA and FIFA are aware of this. A sign of this progress is the expansion from eight teams to 12 in this European Championship.
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