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Ricardinho on Futsal Cup, how Portugal can improve

Ricardinho knows it will be tough for Inter FS in April's UEFA Futsal Cup finals and says his Portugal colleagues need to follow his example if their national fortunes are to improve.

Ricardinho came close to international success with club and country last year
Ricardinho came close to international success with club and country last year ©Getty Images

Even as he captured headlines for his spectacular goals and displays, 2016 was a nearly year for Ricardinho as Inter FS lost in the UEFA Futsal Cup final and Portugal fell just short at world and European levels.

As he now looks ahead to this year, and Inter's latest UEFA Futsal Cup finals bid in April, Ricardinho tells UEFA.com that it will not be easy for his club in Almaty and that if Portugal want to succeed, more of his countrymen need to follow his example and play abroad.

UEFA.com: Holders Ugra Yugorsk, hosts Kairat and Sporting CP in the finals of the UEFA Futsal Cup in Almaty. What do you make of that?

Ricardinho: It's going to be really tough but it's a brilliant competition to play in. Our three opponents all have very different styles – one plays with a flying goalkeeper [Kairat], another play a lot through their pivot [Ugra] while the other side [Sporting] have a lot of foreign players, which is their strength. They're three very different teams, but they all have a lot of quality.

2016 final highlights: How Ugra beat Inter

UEFA.com: There must be some desire for revenge after not winning the competition last year in Guadalajara ...

Ricardinho: I think that final was very evenly matched and we didn't have the luck you always need in a final. Ugra competed very well, played to their strengths in the best way they could. We had three key players injured, playing at 50%, but that's no excuse. We were playing at home in front of our fans, we gave everything but it wasn't possible. You have to congratulate Ugra, they did very well.

We can't think of this tournament as revenge. We need to play with clear heads, compete well and improve a lot, because we're still not at our best.

UEFA.com: It was a year of near-misses for Portugal too, beaten in the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 quarter-finals by Spain and in the FIFA Futsal World Cup semi-finals by Argentina ...

Ricardinho: I think the more I talk about it, what happened in the World Cup was very strange. I couldn't believe Brazil got knocked out in the last 16 and Spain got knocked out so early. I think that the biggest teams are always going to be above the rest. We are among the rest, and we want to improve and cause a surprise like Argentina did. But Portugal's players need to leave their country, because they are too comfortable there.

Futsal EURO: Ricardinho magic

UEFA.com: Did you believe you were close to glory in Colombia?

Ricardinho: Yes, I was sure of it. I thought we'd reach the final, but we paid for the inexperience of our young players in those final rounds, We struggle a lot when we get there because we're not prepared. If our players went to other leagues, we'd do far better.

UEFA.com: Do you think you can be an example for Portugal's young players in encouraging them to move abroad?

Ricardinho: I always say the same – that I'm a brave player. I like to go where people want me to go, and that's the most important thing. When I went to Japan, people said a lot of things. But then I went to the World Cup in Thailand and played very well despite being in a less competitive league.

Then I went to Russia, because I was worried about earthquakes in Japan. The advice I give to the young players is to show character. They have to leave their country and compete in other leagues and try to improve.

It's not enough to stay at Benfica or Sporting, they have to have courage. If more Portuguese players went to other leagues like Spain, the level of Portuguese futsal would improve a lot.