Saturday 20 October 2018, 02:18

Portugal reign supreme in landmark tournament

  • Portuguese win gold after a dominant campaign

  • Japan and Spain complete the podium

  • Bolivia the surprise package in a tournament full of goals

The Women’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018 was a landmark competition for two reasons, as the discipline made its Olympic debut and FIFA organised its first women’s futsal competition.

That context made Portugal’s gold medal a historic one, as were the silver and bronze collected by Japan and Spain respectively. Together with Bolivia and Thailand, the three medallists were a cut above the other five teams in the competition.

In the cases of Tonga and Dominican Republic, that was only to be expected, given that both nations were making their FIFA tournament debuts.

Together the ten teams lit up the competition’s two venues – the Main Futsal Hall and the CeNARD Hall – and laid down a very important marker for the future of the discipline.

The champions Portugal went into the tournament as firm favourites for the gold and backed that status up to emerge very deserving winners. They scored 57 goals in winning all six of their matches, which equated to an average of 9.5 per match, 0.08 above the tournament’s goal per game average. They also gave very little away at the back and prevented the opposition from scoring in three matches.

Their most outstanding performer was Fifo, the competition’s leading scorer with 21 goals, more than Japan, Cameroon, Chile, Tonga, and Trinidad and Tobago each managed in the tournament. Carolina Rocha, Beatriz Sanheiro and Telma Pereira also played starring roles for the champions.

The other medallists Japan were organised, focused and disciplined and it was no surprise to see them qualify for the semi-finals, though their defeat of Spain was something of an upset. Though the Japanese lost both their encounters with Portugal (2-0 in the group phase and 4-1 in the final), nobody made life harder for the champions and they fully merited their silver. Miu Maeda and Rikako Yamakawa were their standout performers.

Spain travelled to Argentina as the other leading contenders for gold, and all the expectations were that they would meet Portugal in the final. Japan got the better of the Spanish tactically, however, forcing them to battle it out with Bolivia for the bronze. Yet La Roja deserved a reward and they got it, with Noelia de las Heras, Antia Perez and Marta Lopez Pardo the stars of their talented squad.

The revelations Unfancied Bolivia made a big impression. Though they missed out on a place on the podium, their fourth place nevertheless felt like a medal. Led by the livewire Maria Galvez, the tournament’s second-highest scorer with 14 goals, the South Americans improved as the competition went on and edged out Thailand, a country with an impressive futsal tradition, in the group phase.

Did you know? A total of 226 goals were scored in the tournament’s 24 matches, an average of 9.42 per match, well above the 6.69 goal per game average of the men’s tournament.