JAKARTA: Indonesia is preparing to face Saudi Arabia in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup qualifiers, the national team’s head coach said on Friday, as the team arrived in the Kingdom for the competition starting next week.
The AFC Futsal Asian Cup is the biennial international futsal championship organized by the Asian Football Confederation for the men’s national teams of Asia. Its 17th edition is going to be held in Thailand in April next year.
Sixteen teams are competing in the tournament and the top four will qualify for the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan.
Indonesia is in Group B, together with the hosts and the national teams of Afghanistan and Macau. All Group B matches will be held at Green Hall Sports City in Dammam from Oct. 7 to Oct. 11.
Marcos Sorato, the Indonesian team’s Brazilian head coach, said they had been training very hard ahead of the competition.
“We are very happy to be here, and we will do our best for Indonesian futsal,” Sorato told Arab News over the phone from Dammam. “We are representing Indonesia’s futsal, the players, staff and fans.”
Indonesia will play Macau on Oct. 7 and Afghanistan on Oct. 9. They will face Saudi Arabia on the last day of the competition.
Sorato expected Saudi Arabia to be Indonesia’s toughest opponent, as the team have been doing “a great job” under their Spanish head coach Andreu Plaza.
“They are doing great,” he said. “They are the strongest national team in our group.”
He sees a bright future not only for the Kingdom’s side but also for the whole league.
“Saudi Arabia’s futsal league can be the best in the world if there is investment and support,” he said.
“The league is very good today, (with) 20 clubs. I’m sure it will be a great league in the next years.”
Sorato was appointed the head coach of the Indonesian National Futsal Team in August.
Previously serving as an assistant and head coach of Brazil, he steered his team to victory in the Futsal World Cup in 2008 and 2012.