Angola will compete in the Futsal World Cup scheduled for 12 September to 4 October in Lithuania. This is a great reward for this discipline that tries to exist between basketball and football, the two most popular sports in the country.
Angolan futsal has been on a rise. Until now, the sport has been relegated to the status of just an entertainment sport, but now the national team has qualified for the World Cup in a historic way. From 12 September to 4 October in Lithuania, coach Rui Sampaio's Palancas Negras will try to bring honour to Africa (with Egypt and Morocco), to Angola and to a sport that is trying to exist in the shadow of (classic) football and, above all, basketball, the king sport.
"Futsal was only born in Angola in 2004. Its development took on astonishing proportions from 2008 onwards, in stages but in laborious conditions," says Angolan coach Rui Sampaio on Fifa.com. '' It took a lot of hard work and self-sacrifice to reach such a level in 2019 that allowed us this historic qualification."
To achieve this result, in fact, those responsible for the discipline had to start from the bottom. Rui Sampaio confides: "A very big project was put in place for the development of men's and women's futsal through the organization of several events, such as provincial championships in the under-9 and senior categories, club championships and also the Angola Cup."
To go even higher, the training of players, at all levels, is essential in Sampaio's opinion. Only some countries on the continent have good teams, such as Morocco and Egypt," he says. This imbalance is due to the lack of investment in the training of coaches, managers and referees. Angola has the potential to become a major futsal power on the continent and why not at international level.
Rui Sampaio eyes 2024
The World Cup in Lithuania will be an opportunity to improve the Angolan national team and hopefully increase the popularity of futsal in the country. Angola will face a tough test in Group E. Spain are two-time world champions (2000 and 2004). Paraguay reached the quarter-finals in 2016 (Colombia). Japan, for their part, will be playing in their fourth World Cup.
Despite this difficult draw, Rui Sampaio is not afraid. '' I'm not afraid of any team, on the contrary, we're going to play at the same level, and we intend not to let ourselves be beaten," he said. '' There are no weak teams left. We will play the three matches of the first phase to show the quality of Angolan futsal and that of the whole African continent."
In any case, the World Cup will serve as a springboard for future events. "Participating in this competition will allow us to progress even further and, above all, to form a solid and competitive group for 2024. This is our priority," Sampaio concluded.