SL Benfica finished third at the Intercontinental Futsal Cup as hosts Interviú Madrid retained the title but coach Paulo Fernandes is already looking ahead to the UEFA Futsal Cup finals.
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UEFA Futsal Cup holders SL Benfica finished third at the Intercontinental Futsal Cup as hosts Interviú Madrid took the title for a fifth time.
Interviú had won the tournament every year from 2005 until 2008 and, after a two-season break, they claimed it again in the Spanish capital. They beat Thailand's GH Bank RBAC 11-1 before defeating defending European champions Benfica 4-2 – to avenge their loss in last year's UEFA Futsal Cup final – and then overcoming Brazil's Carlos Barbosa 2-1 to regain the global crown.
In a competition played in a round robin, or group, format, Benfica had begun with a 4-3 loss to South American representatives Carlos Barbosa, in which they went three down to goals from Sinoe, Flávio and Rodrigo. Marinho pulled one back with ten minutes left but Sinoe struck to ensure late goals from Marinho and Joel Queirós did not turn the tie.
A slow start again caught out Benfica against Interviú: Betão scored on eight and 23 minutes, Gonçalo Alves pulled one back yet was then dismissed, and Borja restored the hosts' two-goal cushion. Although David gave Benfica belated hope, Gabriel removed all doubt at the death.
That left Benfica facing the Asian representatives, GH Bank RBAC, and they triumphed 8-1 with a Joel Queirós hat-trick, two goals each by Arnaldo Pereira and Marinho, plus a Teka strike. That will boost morale as they prepare to take on ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 in the UEFA Futsal Cup semi-finals in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 29 April. The Italian side were knocked out of the Coppa Italia semi-finals at the weekend.
Benfica coach Paulo Fernandes, whose team are unbeaten and three points clear of Sporting Clube de Portugal in the Portuguese league, said of the holders' last-four opponents: "In theory the draw was good, but we cannot forget that Montesilvano eliminated [MFK] Sinara [Ekaterinburg] in Russia. They don't like to play quickly, they defend very well, which gives the initiative to their opponents. So we have to work hard and be organised in attack."
Regarding the possibility of facing Portuguese champions and Lisbon rivals Sporting – who were drawn against Kazakh hosts Kairat Almaty – in the final, he said: "It would be nice. We prefer Sporting as we know them very well and have much more information on how they play." Captain Pedro Costa added: "We are the champions so we have much more pressure. Our goal is to reach the final."
Meanwhile, Miguel Albuquerque, Sporting's futsal director, said of Kairat: "I had the opportunity to watch their two matches against [Brazilian club] Santos FC and could see they have quality. They are at home and they have nine good Brazilians in their squad. But I believe we also have the quality to reach the final. We have more experience."