Futsal maestro Radim Záruba is eager to tear into the UEFA Regions' Cup hosts, telling UEFA.com his mission is to "come back to Tallaght on 4 July and leave with the trophy".
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A 1-0 win against Tuzla in their UEFA Regions' Cup Group B opener proved that South Moravia were rock solid at the back, but hosts Eastern Region IRL would do well to pay attention to the Czech side's midfield marauder Radim Záruba at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday.
"I am looking forward to it," the 20-year-old student told UEFA.com. "I am curious to see the home team in action and I hope a lot of people will turn out to watch a game played in a good atmosphere." However, if he does his job at the home of Shamrock Rovers FC, Záruba may be the one spoiling the home fans' day, with his mission very much to tear into defences from the flank and get a shot in on goal whenever possible.
Záruba plays his club football at sixth-tier Moravská Slavia Brno, but his technique and energy owe much to his grounding in futsal. He turns out for Tango Brno in the top national league and has been called up for the Czech Republic. "Futsal helps you to play football, to keep possession and use your body," he said. "It has developed my skills on the ball: control, short passing and one-on-one situations. The pitch is smaller and you see more of the ball."
However, with the blond arrow's performance in Dublin turning heads, it may be that the 11-a-side game ends up being his chief concern in the long run. "Until now my priority was futsal," he explained. "You get a better chance to play at the highest level, but if a good offer comes in from a football club after this tournament, or at some time in the future, I would definitely think about it. It would be great to get an insight into how clubs work abroad."
In the meantime, having a good look around the footballing scene in the Republic of Ireland has offered its share of excitement. "The grounds here have been great to play at," he said. "I don't get the chance to play on such nice green pitches back at home. The weather has been perfect, which helps too. The UEFA Regions' Cup has been a great experience – visiting Ireland and comparing my footballing skills with players from around Europe."
Observers at Záruba's first finals game compared him to FC Internazionale Milano's Switzerland winger Xherdan Shaqiri. "If I was as good as Shaqiri I wouldn't be here," he said with a smile. "It's great to be likened to players who have achieved something in football, and who are recognised all over the world, but both of my feet are on the ground. I have a lot of work ahead of me."
Reaching the final of the UEFA Regions' Cup, however, might be a significant first step in that process. Prevail on Sunday and South Moravia could be confirmed as Group A winners – and edge closer to becoming the second Czech side to lift the trophy, after Central Moravia in 2001. Záruba feels his team can do it, concluding: "We are determined to go all the way, come back to Tallaght on 4 July and leave with the trophy."
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