Ex-Croatia captain and manager Mićo Martić will lead Finland in UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 qualifying as they prepare to visit Italy in the main round and also help their coach education.
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Mićo Martić will coach Finland in UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 qualifying after agreeing a contract until the end of September.
The 48-year-old, whose deal will automatically extend until the final tournament in early 2014 if Finland qualify, succeeds Jouni Pihlaja, who had been in charge since 2005. Martić will also have a role in domestic futsal coach education.
Football Association of Finland (SPL-FBF) president Pertti Alaja said: "After Jouni Pihlaja announced his resignition last autumn, we started to look for an internationally esteemed option. Our futsal committee has long since emphasised the need for a better coach education system, and we strongly believe that we have now found a suitable person to fulfill our needs to develop our futsal to the next level."
In a 30-year top-level playing career spent mostly with Italian clubs, Martić represented Yugoslavia then Croatia, for whom he scored the first ever UEFA European Futsal Championship final tournament goal against Serbia in 1999. Two years later, he scored against Poland aged 36 years 364 days and remains the oldest ever scorer in a Futsal EURO finals. Martić also helped Croatia to the 2000 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Guatemala.
His coaching career began as player-manager of Futsal Fram Milano in 2002 and two years later combined that role with leading Croatia, a position he held until 2009 while also helping England's futsal setup. Having ended his senior playing career, he became MNK Uspinjača Zagreb coach in 2010 and moved last year to MNK Alumnus, where he will remain alongside his Finland position.
"I am very happy for this chance to develop Finnish futsal, which has a long history," Martić said. "[Finnish] futsal has developed in recent years, the proof is that national team will start EURO qualification for the first time in the main round. However, my main task is to develop the game at grassroots level, so the national team has a solid base for future success."
Martić will begin his reign with a training camp this month and friendlies against the Netherlands on 11 and 12 February. Finland will then face Italy, Hungary and a preliminary round qualifier in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 main round from 27 to 30 March. "The national team have potential for further development," he added. "The players are quick and aggressive. All these qualities are needed in modern futsal. If Spain can develop their game ever further, I don't see why Finland could not do the same."