Coaches Faustino Pérez and Cacau will put their friendship to one side on Sunday in Tbilisi, as MFK Dinamo play in a record fifth decider and Kairat make Kazakhstan's debut in a UEFA final.
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Coaches Faustino Pérez and Cacau will put their friendship to one side on Sunday when MFK Dinamo and Kairat Almaty meet in the UEFA Futsal Cup final in Tbilisi.
Pérez is no stranger to this level having coached Playas de Castellón FS to victory in the first two editions in 2001/02 and 2002/03. Furthermore, last year he lost the final with Dinamo against FC Barcelona. That side were beaten 5-4 by Kairat on Friday as they won a semi-final at the fifth time of asking to become the first Kazakhstan team to get this far in any UEFA competition.
Cacau, who took over as Kairat coach in February having for many years been a player there prior to a spell at FK EP Chrudim, counts Playas among his former sides. "I have great respect and admiration for Tino, for everything he has achieved in futsal," he said. "I'm starting now, and I hope to get many titles too." Pérez added: "Players from both teams are friends, but above all are professionals. Off the pitch we're friends, but on it we don't know each other."
Playing in their fifth final, equalling a record held by Interviú Madrid, Dinamo welcome former Kairat goalkeeper Gustavo back from suspension, though the experienced Aleksei Popov did a fine job in the 5-2 semi-final defeat of hosts Iberia Star Tbilisi. "Gustavo will be in the squad is all I can say," Pérez declared.
"The main thing now is to recover from the semi-final. We have to watch the semi-finals and try to create a tactic for the final. I have to prepare for the possible tactical use of [Kairat goalkeeper] Higuita as a fifth outfield player [as against Barcelona]. I do not know if they will use it against us too, but our obligation is to be prepared for it."
Though Pérez openly concedes he "wanted to play against Barcelona because they are the defending champions, the best team in Europe," Kairat had other ideas. Cacau, who as Chrudim player-coach lost 6-0 to Barcelona in the elite round, said of Friday's success: "We hoped to have a great game, but we knew that Barcelona were a great team. However [former Dinamo player] Joan, Leo Santana, Leo and so on are very experienced players that had already played in semi-finals.
The two Leos were both on the Kairat side denied a finals place by Dinamo in Moscow last season by a last-gasp Cirilo equaliser in the elite round. Cacau himself was on the losing side three times in four European meetings with Dinamo as a Kairat player.
"We respect Dinamo deeply because they have a powerful squad and are one of the best teams in the world," Cacau said. "If we have the same respect for Dinamo that we had for Barcelona, we can have a happy ending."