The Futsalroos have marked a triumphant return to the international stage by securing a spot in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024™ following an eight-year hiatus.
The dream held in the balance during an exciting clash against Chinese Taipei which the Futsalroos needed to win to ensure their aspirations stayed alive. Despite falling behind 2-1, the Futsalroos fought back to level the match before the experienced Shervin Adeli stepped up to nail home the winner with just 10 seconds remaining.
The Futsalroos then had a nervous flight home, needing Japan to defeat Chinese Taipei to ensure their qualification. However, the reigning Futsal Asian Champions comfortably won their match, booking Australia a ticket to Thailand in April 2024.
With Australian Futsal beginning its resurgence back up the rankings following the COVID pandemic, the program’s head coach Miles Downie couldn’t be prouder of his squad who are aware of legacy they are creating.
“Futsal in Australia has struggled for a number of reasons over the years, but within our change room, we knew what we were capable of,” Downie said.
“Only the players and people in that room had a chance to influence what happens next in Australian futsal.
“The whole group were confident that we had what it takes to qualify, and the boys were very proud of what they achieved.
“They were fully aware of the impact that it was going to have going forward. The Futsalroos used to regularly qualify for FIFA Futsal World Cups. But the growth of the game around the world has been meteoric, other nations have seen the game’s true value and are investing massively, and no region has developed faster than Asia.”
Australia has only missed one FIFA Futsal World Cup from 1989 – 2016 and now have the chance to re-enter the famed tournament.
Competing in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand 2024™ is a pivotal turning point for Downie and his squad which he hopes can build a lasting legacy to reignite futsal in Australia.
“The qualification legitimises existing competitions and adds extra significance to them. For example, we’ve got the National Futsal Championships coming up in January, which will be a key selection event, in turn putting real importance on performances at this tournament,” Downie continued.
“From a fan and community perspective, it can be very easy for people to become disillusioned when futsal is not supported as it should be. But when things like this happen, people see a corner turned, they get excited and it builds positive energy.”
Despite the major achievement, the Futsalroos are not content with merely qualifying for the AFC Futsal Asian Cup; they aim to reach greater heights, including FIFA Futsal World Cup™ qualification.
Downie is confident that success is their pathway to revitalising futsal in Australia and building a brighter future for the sport.
“I think a lot will come down to the preparation. With really good preparation, we should be aiming to try and qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup,” Downie continued.
“It’s essential to get Australia back to where we should be and promote consistent national team activities. Being successful is the way to guarantee that.”
The AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand 2024™ will be played from April 17 – 28.