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Sporting aim for finals repeat

Last season's runners-up Sporting Clube de Portugal hope for another home elite round success in Group C against Iberia Star Tbilisi, City'US Târgu Mureş and Győri ETO FC.

Sporting coach Orlando Duarte wants his side to become "even more competitive"
Sporting coach Orlando Duarte wants his side to become "even more competitive" ©Sportsfile

Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR, hosts)
SL Benfica were Portugal's team of 2009/10 after winning the UEFA Futsal Cup but Sporting eclipsed them last season, retaining the league title as part of a domestic treble and reaching their first European final, losing 5-2 to ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5. Coach Orlando Duarte said of this campaign: "We want to become even more competitive and with more quality. The goals are the same as we want to continue or job growing as a team. We are living with the pressure of having won everything internally last year and I am sure all of the teams will be motivated against us." They are locked at the top in Portugal with Benfica unbeaten.

Main round: Bye

Key players: João Benedito (goalkeeper), Alex, Cary, Leitão, João Matos

Iberia Star Tbilisi (GEO)
Iberia are the only ever-present team in all the 11 UEFA Futsal Cup seasons and are in their third straight elite round, improving every year. Brazilians Luiz Baptista and Edu were signed before the main round and two more have now been added – former Suzano Futsal defender Daniel Yuji Sakai – who has Japanese roots – and Corinthians Futsal forward Fofi. Optimistic Ukrainian coach Oleg Solodovnyk told UEFA.com: "I think Iberia Star are strong enough to fight for first place. We know Sporting have a better position in the UEFA rankings and they will host the mini-tournament too. Other teams are difficult to play against as well, but our goal is first place." Iberia Star, who won all 20 league games last season, beat city rivals TSU Tbilisi 10-1 in a friendly last Tuesday.

Main round: FC Mapid Minsk 4-0, FC Geneva 11-0, Slov-Matic Bratislava 3-3 (Group 3 winners)

Key players: Bruno Melo, Giorgi Altunashvili, Luiz Baptista

City'US Târgu Mureş (ROU)
The dominant force in Romania, Târgu Mureş have won all eight league games this season, scoring 89 and conceding 24. Having finished second behind Marca Futsal in the main round, coach Kacsó Endré pointed out: "We lost only in the last two minutes." As for the elite round, he mused: "We can qualify and everything depends on the first match. If we manage at least a draw versus Sporting, we will have a chance, because we are at least at the same level as Iberia and Gyor, who we can defeat. Last year we lost 4-1 against Sporting, but this is not a totally true result, because we dominated the second half."

Main round: MNK Split 4-1, FC Ilves Tampere 7-1, Marca Futsal 2-5 (Group 5 runners-up)

Key players: Carlão (goalkeeper), Florin Matei, Robert Lupu, Dumitru Stoica

Győri ETO FC (HUN)
Győr had a perfect record in Hungary last year, scoring 97 goals in 11 wins. But the team this year is much-changed and under new coach Artur Melo the team has failed to reproduce that stunning form that led to a two-year long, 38-match unbeaten run, winning only four of seven and slipping back to fourth place with four games left. A thrilling 7-5 defeat of KMF Leotar Trebinje 7-5 did take them through the main round behind FC Barcelona, one of only two preliminary round survivors in this stage. Melo said: "Scoring points [in this group] is already a big dream for us but, thinking realistically and in the cold light of day, the opponents that stand opposite us are much stronger and more experienced. However, we will go to Portugal to fight hard and we will certainly not give in easily."

Preliminary round: FC Anzhi Tallinn 9-0, Helvécia Futsal London 6-1, Stella Rossa Wien 10-3 (Group E winners)

Main round: FK Nikars Riga 7-4, FC Barcelona 2-8, KMF Leotar Trebinje 7-5 (Group 2 runners-up).

Key players: Ion Al-Ioani, Tamás Lódi, Ákos Harnisch.


Reporters: Hugo Pietra, Vakhtang Bzikadze, Paul-Daniel Zaharia & Matthew Watson-Broughton