Sunday 02 October 2016, 00:48

Gold for Wilhelm, silver for Lima

The FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 most definitely saw a changing of the guard. The two giants of the global game, Spain and Brazil, were knocked off their perches and replaced in the final by Russia and Argentina. On an individual level, meanwhile, this edition of the tournament also witnessed stunning performances by renowned names and the emergence of a new crop of talents, whose own stars promise to shine brightly for many years to come. The members of the Technical Study Group (TSG) awarded the tournament’s individual prizes to the following players:

adidas Golden Ball: Fernando Wilhelm (ARG)It was a case of fourth time lucky for Fernando Wilhelm. After three previous World Cup appearances had each ended in frustration, the 34 year-old assumed the Argentinean captaincy for this year’s competition. And he could not have managed his new responsibilities any better. Wilhelm never shied away from raising his voice, using his uncanny sense of anticipation to snuff out counter-attacks throughout the tournament. He dependably held his nerve at the key moments, while the Albiceleste’s strikers were particularly indebted to their captain’s keen eye for a telling pass. With his blend of perseverance, combativeness and tactical awareness, Wilhelm is an example to team-mates and rivals alike, and fully deserves the adidas Golden Ball at Colombia 2016.

adidas Silver Ball and adidas Silver Boot with 10 goals: Eder Lima (RUS)Regardless of the stage, Eder Lima’s mission is always the same: to torment opposition defences and keep the goalscoring charts ticking upwards in his favour. And throughout Colombia 2016, the Russian star has fulfilled his role with distinction. With five goals in his first two matches, Lima successfully picked up where he had left off in 2012, when his nine strikes saw him finish as the tournament’s top marksman. He subsequently turned provider to his team-mates, assisting eight of his team’s goals, before his predatory instincts took over once more in the final, even if his three strikes were ultimately made in a losing cause.

adidas Bronze Ball: Ahmad Esmaeilpour (IRN)Ahmad Esmaeilpour made his first tentative steps at a Futsal World Cup in Thailand 2012. Four years down the line, he is leaving Colombia on the back of a double achievement: Iran’s third place finish represents the country’s best showing at a Futsal World Cup, while Esmaeilpour himself has been named as the tournament’s third best player. Measuring well over six foot tall, this 28-year-old is the complete package. He has caused chaos throughout the tournament with his technique, movement and vision, not to mention his powerful long-range shooting, all combined with a ferocious desire to win that has carried the Team Melli to the podium for the first time in their history.

adidas Golden Boot: Ricardinho, 12 goals (POR)Emerging goalless from Portugal’s first encounter against Colombia, Ricardinho made up for lost time in his second outing by scoring six times in a 9-0 win over Panama. Having notched up another three goals in an easy win against Uzbekistan, the Portuguese star then set his team on the way to their first win in the knock-out stages, scoring the first two goals in a 4-0 victory. He also left his mark in the clash with Azerbaijan, netting yet another goal. Boasting technique, power and skill, Ricardinho is the perfect blend of ruthlessness and elegance.

adidas Bronze Boot: Falcao, 10 goals (BRA)When it comes to Falcao, the figures say it all: five World Cups, 34 matches, 48 goals. This legend of the game continues to set standards that will surely go unmatched for many years yet. As always, pre-tournament expectations were high for the Brazilian. Yet, just as predictably, he immediately proved himself more than up to the challenge, opening his account against Australia. Having signed off with yet another strike in his and Brazil’s final match against Iran, he ended up as the author of ten of the Seleçao’s 33 goals.

adidas Golden Glove: Nicolas Sarmiento (ARG)In Nicolas Sarmiento, Colombia 2016 saw the emergence of a goalkeeper who promises to be a fixture in the sport for years to come. Much like Argentina coach Diego Giustozzi, the TSG was won over by the 23-year-old’s outstanding raw talent. The fifth-youngest goalkeeper of the 55 present at the tournament, Sarmiento stood out thanks to his consistency, confidence and capacity to marshal the tournament’s most miserly defence. He ended Colombia 2016 with an impressive record of three clean sheets.

FIFA Fair Play Award: VietnamVietnam not only provided a breath of fresh air in their first appearance at a World Cup, but they also demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship all the way up to their elimination at the hands of Russia in the Round of 16. The Vietnamese only picked up four yellow cards throughout the competition.

FIFA makes this award based on evaluations by members of the Technical Study Group (TSG), who undertake a detailed analysis of national team members’ behaviour on and off the pitch. The goal is to promote a sporting attitude among players, coaches and also spectators at FIFA tournaments.