Application process for new FA Futsal Cup now open
English National Futsal Champions Baku United are among Europe’s finest Futsal clubs after qualifying for the last 16 of the UEFA Futsal Cup.
This is the first time a team from England has reached this stage of the competition and it was achieved with a 100 per cent record to see Baku into the Elite Round draw among clubs such as FC Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and Dina Moscow.
They travelled to Serbia last week for the Main Round and finished top of their group, which included the champions of Italy, Serbia and Greece.
In the first game they faced the group favourites Luparense from Italy and got off to an excellent start with a well-worked goal in the fourth minute.
Baku increased their lead to four goals in the second half before an immediate response from the Italians, saw them score two goals in four minutes to make it 4-2.
But Baku’s defence held strong and took advantage of the unguarded goal to add two more and seal a final score of 6-2, which was both impressive and deserved for the London outfit.
Next up Baku faced the Serbian hosts, a young Ekonomac side who had won their first game 3-1 against the Greeks. The game started similar to the previous match, with Marcelo breaking the deadlock in the fourth minute. Baku increased their lead from the penalty spot after a clear handball in the area before Ekonomac pulled one back to make it 2-1.
In the second half, Baku’s pressing paid off when Chus Hurtado stole the ball off the last defender and went through against the keeper to score and another was added a minute later when Baku’s pressing and a quick one-two resulted in a tap-in at the back post.
With the three goal lead, Baku saw out the game by keeping possession and the win assured qualification with a game to spare.
With the team already through, they faced Athina 90 from Greece in the final game. The Greeks used an aggressive man-to-man defence near their own goal to deny any space for the English champions, which made it difficult for Baku to score but Athina’s attacking threat was non-existent.
Baku controlled the fixture but could only find the net on two occasions to give a final result of 2-0.
But all three convincing victories in Serbia will give Baku confidence for the Elite Round and the belief that they can compete at this level.
The draw takes place on 17 October for the four groups of four teams and the games will be played between 18-23 November.
A favourable draw could give Baku the chance to make it to the UEFA Futsal Cup Final Four where the European title will be decided.