Spanish coach Bruno Garcia Formoso was ecstatic to see his Vietnamese men secure a place in the upcoming 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup after Wednesday’s terrific qualifying match.
Vietnam defeated reigning champions Japan 2-1 in penalties, after drawing 4-4, in the quarterfinals of the AFC Futsal Championship held in Uzbekistan.
The event doubled as the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup.
The match, described by FIFA as “the most dramatic quarterfinal of the day,” earned Vietnam their maiden qualification for the Futsal World Cup, to be held in Colombia from September 10 to October 1.
The match ended 3-3 after regulation time. Each side scored during extra time, leaving the match tied at 4-4, according to FIFA reports.
After advancing to a penalty shootout, Phung Trong Luan scored the decisive penalty in a 2-1 win over the Samurai Blue to make history for the Golden Stars.
“The qualification is especially historic for Vietnam as it represents the country's first ever appearance at a FIFA finals [tourney] of any kind,” the world’s football governing body said on its website.
“The players were fantastic… I'm very happy for all Vietnamese people because it's the first time a national team will play a World Cup,” coach Formoso said on his Facebook on Thursday.
“This team is making history but now it's time to think about other powers, such as Iran, in the semifinals.”
Vietnam will face Iran in the second semifinal on Friday, whereas the Uzbeks will play Thailand in the first match on the same day.
Formoso underlined that Iran are an Asian futsal power and the Vietnamese team should not lose their focus on the rest of their journey in Uzbekistan.
According to FIFA, the top five teams of the ongoing AFC Futsal Championship will qualify for the Colombia tournament as representatives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
This means Vietnam, together with Iran, Thailand and Uzbekistan – teams that made it to the semifinals – have secured a place in the World Cup, regardless of the final results of the Uzbekistan tourney.
The four defeated quarterfinalists, Iraq, Australia, Kyrgyzstan and Japan, will battle it out for the fifth and final berth to qualify for Colombia 2016, according to FIFA.
Formoso also hailed his Vietnamese players as “sensational,” having beaten a great selection of the Japanese rivals, coached by his countryman, Miguel Rodrigo.
“Everything went wrong for us, we had a lot of opportunities to close out the game and we faced an opponent with a fantastic spirit so I have to congratulate them on a win they deserved. We have to learn from this,” Rodrigo was quoted by the AFC website as saying after the loss.
“We didn’t defend as we had so far and we also had a couple of decisive scoring chances we didn’t convert.
“Even though we couldn’t kill off the match I can’t blame the players, and if someone has to be blamed for the loss, then that’s me.”
In Vietnam, many supporters also took to social networks to express their joy following Vietnam’s historic victory over Japan.
Facebook was flooded with statuses, mostly containing such words as “incredible,” “unbelievable,” “dream came true,” and “we made it,” shortly after news broke of the triumph.