Wednesday 10 August 2016, 22:34

Colombia's Caro relishing Futsal World Cup challenge

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There is just one month to go until the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 kicks off. And Angellott Caro, captain and star player of the host nation's team, is well aware of that fact. Colombia are looking to consolidate their achievements in Thailand four years ago when they surprisingly finished in fourth place.

Caro and his team-mates will endeavour to do so in front of a home crowd as demanding as they are passionate. "There is pressure on us, but we're relaxed all the same because we're working hard," he said calmly in an interview with "We're united, and that's the most important thing."

Staying calm is one of the qualities of the unpredictable 27-year-old, who started out in the game playing on the streets of his neighbourhood in Bogota. Since then, the winger's career has allowed him to showcase his abilities in countries as diverse as Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Spain, Czech Republic, Venezuela and Libya, to name but a few.

That experience is not insignificant for his coach Osmar Fonnegra, who views his No10 as a reference point for the team: "Angellott has held his own overseas because he can throw you off balance, he's a great leader. He always shows his importance out on the pitch." Fonnegra not only handed Caro his debut in the national team, he also made him captain, a role he has held since 2008.

Moreover, Caro has become a symbol of futsal in Colombia, a country where not just anyone can become the visible face of a sport. "To be honest I feel happy because that's what you train for," he said. "They talk a lot about me here, but only because I travel… but we have some great players and they should talk about them too."

Warranted optimism Extroverted, cheerful and a fan of salsa and reggaeton, Caro is aware that his role will extend beyond merely playing the game during the Futsal World Cup. Even children want to be like him. "That's something that makes me happy too," he said with a smile. "I still get surprised when, for example, I receive drawings on social networks. I feel flattered and proud but I have to keep giving them reasons to be happy."

He will have the chance to do so with Colombia at the World Cup. The South Americans set the bar very high in Thailand, where Caro scored three goals in seven games to contribute to an unforgettable tournament in which they recorded victories over powerhouses such as Ukraine and Iran.

Yet Caro is not the kind of person to dwell on the past. "I don't like to go over games again because they've been and gone," he explained. "I prefer to train and live in the present. I can't wait for the World Cup to arrive."

Colombia were drawn in Group A and will play their first match against a Portugal side, considered one of the title favourites, spearheaded by Ricardinho. "You don't expect to play a team like that in your first game in the first round," Caro said. "We saw the draw and said 'that can't be', but we know that we can beat anyone. It'll be a great match for the fans and for the spectacle of futsal."

They will subsequently go up against Uzbekistan and Panama, making it one of the more difficult groups to predict. "It's a tough group, but we're confident that we're going to have a good World Cup and that we'll go through," Caro said.

Why is he so optimistic? "We've got more experience now," he explained. "Before , we were just 20-25 years old, none of us were over 27. Now we're older and wiser. We know what we're about. We know that we're representing a nation, our country. If we're going to do well, we need to really focus. We're working on that."