Tuesday 14 September 2021, 07:00

Czech fisherman eyes Brazilian catch

  • Michal Seidler hit a hat-trick as Czech Republic downed Panama 5-1

  • He hails Brazil but insists Czech Republic can beat them

  • Goalkeeper Ondrej Vahala discusses his assist

A fisherman spent hours and hours on the banks of the Elbe River, his hands clasping a fiberglass rod, his mind fantasising over an elusive prize. Suddenly, he was snapped out of dreamworld by a bite. A big one. Michal Seidler couldn’t believe his eyes as he yanked an 80-centimetre carp out of the waters backdropped by Giant Mountains. It was easily the biggest fish he had ever caught. He would take a photo, get it framed and live off the feat for decades in fishing circles. It was not, however, the prize he had been dreaming of just moments before. Michal Seidler spent his time by one of Europe’s five major rivers dreaming of the major prize in his sporting sea: the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ trophy. Conquering the competition may be a pipe-dream, but Czech Republic took a step towards it with an emphatic 5-1 reverse of Panama in their opener. Seidler had his impassioned fans rocking Klaipeda Arena – and probably scaring fish 1,300km away in the Elbe – three times in a paradisiacal first half.

“I’m happier that we won than that I scored a hat-trick,” he told FIFA.com. “Obviously to score a hat-trick in a World Cup is something really special, something I’ll think about years later, but the victory means much more to me. Our target was simply to win, so to win by a big margin makes us really pleased. “And our fans seemed to enjoy it (laughs). Their support was incredible. We could hear them throughout. They were very loud, they made it an amazing atmosphere. I hope it will be the same in a few days’ time.” The atmosphere is guaranteed to be electric in the Klaipeda Arena on Thursday as Czech Republic take on another team whose followers turn every contest into a carnival: Brazil. So, can the Central Europeans stun the record five-time Futsal World Cup winners, who demolished Vietnam 9-1 in their curtain-raiser? “Of course we can beat Brazil,” said Seidler. “It’s a game of futsal, anyone can win. We won’t be afraid and we will go out to try and beat them, not to play as some teams do, accepting defeat but trying to keep the score down. “But Brazil are the best side at this tournament. They are the favourites, in my view. Pito is a class apart. Pito and Ferrao are outstanding players. I’m glad I’m not in defence (laughs).”

Czech Republic No10 Michal Seidler celebrates scoring

In their last participation in the Futsal World Cup in 2012, Seidler’s late goal helped secure the point against Serbia that took Czech Republic into the Round of 16, where they lost 3-0 to Russia. “We have a better team than we had nine years ago in Thailand,” said the 31-year-old. “And we have more experience. “First we want to get into the knockout stage. We’ve completed the first part, but we need more points. Then we want to start causing surprises. When we play as a team, I believe we can compete against anyone.”

Teamwork was central to Czech Republic’s opening victory. It included several well-worked, opponent-hypnotising goals – and one of Seidler’s was provided by an unlikely source: goalkeeper Ondrej Vahala. “It was a bit lucky, to be honest,” the No16 told FIFA.com. “But me and Seidler play together in the Czech league. We know Panama keep coming at you and leaving men, so when I had the ball I just launched it and he did well to score the goal. “Our coach had the right game plan. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we knew Panama were not so good tactically like the top European teams. So we prepared to keep it tight at the back and hit them on the counter-attack, to take our chances. We were very clinical. “Now we have the number one team in the world. I think they are the favourites to win the tournament. It will be very hard. “But we can beat anybody and that includes Brazil. They are just people. We have to play really well in defence and, if we get one or two chances, take them. If we can do that and, perhaps, get a little bit of luck, we can do it."

Ondrej Vahala of Czech Republic in action against Panama