Irish futsal champions make trip to Vienna
IRISH futsal champions EID Futsal have been drawn in Group C of the UEFA Futsal Cup Preliminary Round after the draw was held in Nyon today. EID, now partnered with Eden College, will travel to Vienna for the four-team group which will be hosted by Austrian champions 1. FC Allstars Wiener Neustadt. Swiss champions Minerva Futsal Bern and Turkish side TÜFAD Ankara make up the rest of the group.
The Irish champions are the top seeds in the group. Irish champions for each of the last three seasons, EID were the first Irish club to progress to the main round of the UEFA Futsal Cup in 2010 when they won their preliminary round group and last year they went out at the first stage on goal difference despite being unbeaten.
The side that wins Group C will progress to the main round where they will travel to Hungary to meet hosts ETO FC Gy?r, 2010 semi-finals Araz Naxçivan of Azerbaijan and Dutch champions CF Eindhoven. EID won the FAI Futsal Cup on June 24 after a thrilling final against Blue Magic. Led by a hat-trick from Badr Bouznig, the Dublin-based side came from 2-0 down to win 7-4 in a top class game of futsal at ALSAA to retain their title at the second attempt. This year's FAI Futsal Cup had 24 entrants with sections in Dublin, Cork, Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Galway.
Futsal is the official FIFA-approved version of 5-a-side football and is professional in many countries. "The performance of EID in the last two years of the UEFA Futsal Cup has been a testament to the standard of the game played at the highest level in this country," said Derek O'Neill, Republic of Ireland national futsal team manager.
"When you consider that clubs with the resources of current champions Barcelona, Dinamo Moscow, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon are all playing in the UEFA Futsal Cup, it is fantastic that an Irish club has the potential to be rubbing shoulders with that sort of organisation. "Euro 2012 has also provided further evidence of why futsal needs to be promoted amongst our young players. It is worth noting that as well as winning the European football championships and World Cup in the past four years, Spain have won the last three UEFA futsal championships and won the FIFA World Futsal Championships in 2000 and 2004.
"Every young footballer starts off playing futsal in school in Spain and the influence that it has had on the technical development of their players is obvious."