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Croatia impressed everyone in Shanghai!

The Croatians had never been in the quarter finals of a FISU World University Championship Futsal, but this men’s team managed to surpass all the previous ones to win the gold medal in Shanghai.

The Shanghai 2024 FISU World University Championship Futsal was like a dream come true for the Croatian men’s team. After strong performances in the group stage – like the win 7-4 against New Zealand – the men in the checkered shirts continued their journey to the stars.

After qualifying for the quarter finals of a FISU World University Futsal Championship for the first time, they didn’t at all look shy when facing Portugal, a very strong opponent with a huge support at home watching their games live on national television. They beat them 4-1 and only let Ukraine score one more goal against them (4-2) in the semis!

The final between Croatia and Brazil was spectacular!

Then there was “only” Brazil left on their path to gold. But nobody was stopping Croatia in Shanghai, not even one of the top teams in the world. But the Croatians stuck their heads down and managed to start the final exactly how they wanted: by scoring with a quick attack just one minute into the match. It was an extremely tight first half, with two very offensive teams and with two minutes remaining before the break, Croatia managed to double the score.

The second half saw relentless attacks from both sides. Around 6 minutes and 50 seconds into the second half, Brazil came back 2:1. Enough to scare Croatia? Possibly. Or maybe they just concentrated on their game plan and took advantage of the defensive gaps left by a Brazilian team desperate to come back. And despite all their efforts, Croatia’s superb winning run was sealed off with yet another victory. 4-1 and a really well deserved gold medal.

Croatia Nikola Gudasic was struggling to believe what had just happened. “It was a really very difficult game. Brazil’s team has very good individuals who managed to put us in hard situations. But we took the early lead and continued to defend well and the result came as the result from that. It’s a very nice feeling!”

A women’s final where everyone spoke the same language

It was easier to place a bet on which two teams were likely to meet in the women’s final. Portugal, the defending champion was likely to perform well in Shanghai, and so was Brazil. Could China and respectively New Zealand stop either of the two Portuguese-speaking countries from reaching the final?

Both did their best, but New Zealand was surpassed 8-0 by Brazilians on fire, while China bravely thought to finally lose 3-1. The home team’s efforts were rewarded by a bronze medal after beating the Kiwis 3-1.

The Chinese made the home crowd proud by beating New Zealand for the bronze medal.

The women’s final was so tight that it ended up going into extra-time. The first 10 minutes were evenly matched. Nobody managed to score until the 11th minute when Portugal seized a counter attack opportunity, kicked the ball, which, with a bit of luck hit a Brazilian player before rebounding into the net, ending the first half with a 1-0 lead.

Thanks to the women’s team, Brazil will be travelling home with a gold medal and a world title in its luggage.

In the second half, the Brazilians, pushed by many supporters in the stands, equalised after only three minutes. Both teams were unable score another goal so the match went into extra-time (two five minute halves). This time, Brazil managed to find the necessary resources to score not just once, but twice, winning the game 3-1 and ending up winning the championship gold!

The final tables

Women’s Competition:

1. Brazil
2. Portugal
3. China
4. New Zealand
4. Germany
6. Ukraine
7. Poland

Men’s competition:

1. Croatia
2. Brazil
3. France
4. Ukraine
5. Morocco
6. Saudi Arabia
7. Portugal
8. Czechia
9. New Zealand
10. Oman
11. China
12: Hong Kong
13. Mongolia
14. United Arab Emirates

FISU Executive Committee Member Sami A. Garabedian from Lebanon waving the FISU flag at the end of a very successful competition. The next FISU World Championship Futsal will be in Poznan (POL) in 2026.

Written by Thérèse Courvoisier