I've been thinking for a while to start a thread on one of the newest and most exciting to watch new versions of football and today after reading a very informative article on Sporting's participation in this season's UEFA Futsal's Cup I decided to start it...
Sporting soaring to fresh success
Thursday, 16 November 2006
by Nuno Tavares from Porto
With the Elite round of the UEFA Futsal Cup to take place from 4 December, uefa.com is taking a closer look at each of the 16 sides involved. Today we examine Sporting Clube de Portugal, who reached the semi-finals as hosts of the inaugural edition in 2001/02. They will travel to Russia to face two-time finalists MFK Dinamo Moskva, highly-rated FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Romania's CIP Deva, with only one place in April's final four up for grabs.
That makes Group B probably the toughest of the four pools, but Sporting's breathtaking start to the season marks them out as undeniable contenders. Not only did they defeat FC Adana Yerevan, KMF Alfa Parf Skopje and Clearex Chorzów to storm through the UEFA Futsal Cup Main round, scoring 17 goals, but they have won all seven of their Portuguese league fixtures to date, including a 2-1 victory at arch-rivals and former European finalists SL Benfica. Last weekend they overcame Boavista FC 8-0, the second time they have reached that tally in the league this term.
Sporting's history in the small-sided game dates back to 1988, when the famed club founded in 1906 embraced FIFA's decision to recognise futsal. The Lisbon outfit have gone on to win seven Portuguese championships (1992/93, 1993/94, 1994/95, 1998/99, 2000/01, 2003/04, 2005/06), one Portuguese Cup (2005/06) and two Portuguese Super Cups (2001/02, 2003/04).
Much of Sporting's success is down to coach Paulo Fernandes. The 41-year-old has five Portuguese titles under his belt with Sporting, following short spells at Grupo Desportivo dos Bons Dias and Brinca N'Areia FC. As for key players, Sporting field stalwart talents like Evandro, Zézito and Bibi, but the spotlight is currently on new Brazilian signing Davi, who helped Action 21 Charleroi to victory in the 2004/05 UEFA Futsal Cup, playing both legs of the thrilling final win against Dinamo and also scoring in the 7-4 defeat of Sporting in the previous round. The 27-year-old has brought that form to Portugal, and already has 12 goals this season. His compatriot Adolfo Wulf, who also joined this summer, is in similar fine fettle having long established his reputation elsewhere in the Portuguese league.
The departure of No1 goalkeeper João Benedito to two-time European champions Playas de Castellón FS at the end of last season could have taken its toll on the Portuguese champions but Cristiano has stepped up and conceded only ten goals in the seven league matches so far, ensuring Sporting have the best defensive record in the league.