- Russia, Portugal, Spain and Kazakhstan are bound for the FIFA Futsal World Cup
- The quartet also qualified for the 2016 edition
- Two more global finals berths on the line in Europe
Four European representatives from Colombia 2016, Russia, Portugal, Spain and Kazakhstan, have booked places at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020™ after securing first place in their respective UEFA Elite Round groups.
In Group C, the Russians beat Slovakia (7-1), lost to Azerbaijan (4-3) but bounced back with a 4-3 victory over Croatia, seizing the group’s top spot and with it, a place at the global finals.
Over in Group A Portugal went unbeaten, beginning with a win over Belarus (2-1), followed by a draw against group runners-up Finland (2-2) and then a decisive 4-1 triumph versus Italy to punch their World Cup ticket.
Spain defeated France and Ukraine by the same 3-1 scoreline before a resounding 5-1 victory over Serbia in Group B, which sealed the two-time Futsal World Cup winners’ ticket to Lithuania 2020.
An opening defeat against Romania (3-1) did little to deter Kazakhstan, who strung together a pair of impressive wins over Slovenia (4-3) and Czech Republic (5-2) to finish first in Group D.
Serbia will now face Finland while Croatia will meet Czech Republic in April’s play-off round to compete for a spot at Lithuania 2020.
Russia, Portugal, Spain and Kazakhstan join hosts Lithuania at the tournament. Seven of the 24 teams competing at Lithuania 2020 have now been determined; Solomon Islands booked their passage at the 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup, and Egypt became the first team to qualify from the 2020 CAF Futsal Africa Cup of Nations.
Lithuania 2020 will mark Russia’s seventh Futsal World Cup, Portugal’s sixth, Spain’s ninth and Kazakhstan’s third. Russia’s best finish came in the 2016 edition where they earned a silver medal after losing out to Argentina in the final. Semi-finalists in 2016, Portugal’s only superior performance came in 2000, when they finished in third place, while Spain were champions in 2000 and 2004. Kazakhstan will look to build on their best-ever performance four years ago, when they advanced from the group stage and reached the last 16.