ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 captain Marcio Forte is proud Italy have a team in the finals again and says if they can repeat their elite round form they could upset the favourites in Almaty.
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ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5's debut UEFA Futsal Cup campaign has taken them all the way to the finals, and as they prepare to face holders SL Benfica in the last four in Almaty on Friday, captain Marcio Forte is delighted that Italy has sent a side to the showpiece for the second year running, 12 months after Luparense C/5 finished fourth. Montesilvano knocked out former winners MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg and 2010 bronze-medallists Araz Naxçivan in the elite round in Russia and Forte told UEFA.com that they are proud to be in Kazakhstan.
UEFA.com: You have played in the Italian championship final, UEFA Futsal EURO and the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Where would you rank these finals?
Marcio Forte: Since many players in our team were having their first important experience at international level, reaching the finals can be compared to reaching the European Championship final or the World Cup semi-finals, in my opinion. At club level it is the most important competition in the world and we are full of pride to be among the four strongest teams in Europe.
UEFA.com: There will be no Russian or Spanish teams for the first time. Has the European futsal hierarchy changed or is just a one-off?
Forte: Last year, if my memory is good, Luparense eliminated ElPozo Murcia in the elite round... In my opinion it stresses that the work done by many countries is producing good results. Today futsal is not only about Spain or Russia; last year a team from Azerbaigian reached the finals, this year one from Kazakhstan qualified, while Portugal – who played in the final of the last European Championship – will have two teams representing the country. This is a signal that futsal is not limited to one or two schools any more, it is more globalised. There is strong competition, many teams are improving and often underestimating opponents can cost you games.
UEFA.com: What does it mean for Italian futsal to have a team in the finals again?
Forte: I think this is a very important result for Italian futsal. It's a sign that Italian futsal is among the strongest in Europe, so Italian teams must continue to develop their academies in order to produce more and more young talents.
UEFA.com: How do you rate the teams in the finals?
Forte: Benfica are the favourites to win the tournament. They won last year and have gained confidence since then. Even though they lost Ricardinho they brought in other strong players and they are the team to beat. Sporting are led by the former Portugal coach [Orlando Duarte], he brought in players he trusts and managed to beat one of the biggest favourites, ElPozo Murcia. In the Portuguese championship they are on a par with Benfica therefore they cannot be considered underdogs. Kairat have a core of Brazilian players, I know many of them very well. They struggled a little in qualifying but since then they have reinforced their squad. They aim to reach the final and are playing in front of their fans, as well as having players who have already won the trophy.
UEFA.com: In your opinion, how far can Montesilvano go in Kazakhstan?
Forte: Montesilvano can repeat the level of the performances in Russia: we will go into games without fear, trying to play our own game and aiming to benefit from the possible nerves of our rivals. We have qualified, we are a young team going to the finals to do our best. We must for sure take one step at the time, because it will be very hard but if we repeat the performances in Ekaterinburg in the elite round, we will go far in the tournament. We will do our utmost in order to honor the Montesilvano shirt and the name of Italy.
UEFA.com: In Italy, Montesilvano have a defensive reputation, is this fair?
Forte: We work very hard on defence and undoubtedly this is our main strength. However in the last two years we have been runners-up and Italian champions; these are not goals that you can achieve by only being good at defending. We know we can do well also in attack as we have a lot of quality. Undoubtedly the defence has brought us to this level, but up front we have great champions who can always make the difference.
UEFA.com: Who should we watch out for in the finals from Montesilvano?
Forte: I would pick Fabricio Calderolli. He underwent knee surgery and is now back. When we went to Russia, he told me: "Marcio, let me play in these finals." He deserves to be with us to play this great tournament; he helped us to win in the past when he was one of the best players in the Italian championship. He deserved it - we dedicated qualification to him. The finals stars? You will forgive me, but I hope Adriano Foglia and Cristian Borruto will be the stars of the tournament. I hope they are in peak form; they are two champions and they can make the difference any time.