Monday 15 October 2018, 22:01

Fifo, Portugal’s goal machine

  • Youngest ever debutant for Portugal’s women’s national team

  • Leading scorer at Buenos Aires 2018 women’s futsal tournament with 17 goals

  • Fifo: "I’m so proud to be wearing the Portugal jersey"

Ana Sofia Simoes Goncalves, better known as Fifo, has a matchball tucked under each arm, the result of scoring a double hat-trick against Bolivia in the semi-finals of the Women’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournaments Buenos Aires 2018. One of her six goals was a delightful backheel, a strike that showed she is a natural born goalscorer.

“I started to play futsal when I was very young,” she told after helping Portugal advance to Wednesday’s gold medal match. “My father and brother have always played football but I chose this sport because of its intensity. I like it more than anything else. I like the taste of futsal.”

The gifted No9, who stands 5’8 (172cm) tall, has been one of the stars of the competition so far and went into it as her country’s youngest ever senior international debutant in either futsal or football. In winning her first full cap at the age of only 16, Fifo took that national record from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardinho, no less.

In the two years since then, she has struck 20 goals in 17 senior international matches, and in Buenos Aires she has helped herself to 17 more, a tally that makes her the tournament’s leading goalscorer.

A brilliant finisher, Fifo is thoroughly enjoying the Olympic experience: “I’m so proud to be wearing the Portugal jersey. For me there’s nothing more important than this and I’m trying to do the best I can. I’ve looked on every match as special, whether it’s been a group game or a semi-final.”

Her CV with her club Benfica is, if anything, even more impressive, with seven trophies won to date, including two national league titles.

Fifo’s performances in Buenos Aires have earned praise from all quarters, including Javier Lozano, a former two-time FIFA Futsal World Cup-winning coach with Spain and now a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG): “She is a superb attacker but where she really stands out is in her decision making.”

Nicknamed ‘Fifo’ by her family when she was a child, the Portugal goal machine is having what she describes as an “amazing” time in the Argentinian capital: “I love the people here; they’re very hospitable. It’s great! It’s fantastic to be here with other athletes too and to spend time with them and share experiences.”

Fifo and her team-mates are now just a step away from gold. While they might have expected to take on Spain in the latest instalment of their Iberian rivalry, their opponents will instead be Japan. “They’re a very good side, but we’re very focused,” said the free-scoring striker. “We’re very confident we can get the gold.”