I recently participated in the Mini Club World Cup in Kuwait. I was recruited by MNK Alumnus from Croatia and spent a couple of days preparing in Zagreb before traveling to the Arab country for the tournament.
In the 2-2 draw with Chonburi of Thailand

In the 2-2 draw with Chonburi of Thailand

The organisers of the event wanted to provide entertainment during the month of ramadan. To achieve this aim they chose to create a futsal club tournament with national league champions and top sides from countries around the world. The tournament received approval from FIFA and The AFC.
The investment in the event was huge. This can be demonstrated by the fact there was a tournament song with video, an excellent opening ceremony, prize draws for spectators that included 3 cars and numerous mobile phones, 5* accommodation for all the teams, a tournament mobile phone app as well as the $500,000 prize fund on offer. It was great to see such investment in the sport.
The competition was broadcast live on television across the Arab world as well as on the tournament website. It was a very professional production with nine cameras in the hall as well as a TV analysis studio featuring well known sports stars from the region.
TV studio where games were discussed & debated

TV studio where games were discussed & debated

Many of Alumnus’ players had obligations to play in the European University Championships in Malaga so they had to draft in many players. These mostly came from their B side that plays in the 2ndDivision alongside other players from the Croatian league and myself.

We were drawn in the group of death and weren’t the favourites to qualify. In our group we had Santiago; who finished 5thin Spain last year, Kazma; who featured a team wholly of Portuguese players including four that won the UEFA Futsal Cup with Benfica, and Chonburi; the Thai champions who are led by Spanish coach Pulpis.

MNK Alumnus

MNK Alumnus

However we managed to qualify with a win, a draw and a loss. We played Muharaaq from Bahrain in the quarter finals and won 5-1. We would play Cardinal from Ukraine in the semi-final. Unfortunately I had to leave before this game to join my team for the 13/14 season, Baku United, in Spain for pre-season. We lost this game and the 3rd place playoff to Santiago to finish in 4thposition. The competition was won by Misr from Egypt.
I write the occasional article for FutsalPlanet and took the opportunity during the tournament to conduct some interviews for this website, including with top coaches Santi Valladares (Santiago), Pulpis (Chonburi) and Hossein Shams (ex-Iran).
Training in the match hall

Training in the match hall

Overall the tournament was a great success and received a lot of attention. I think in the future it can become a very important event in the futsal calendar.  Plans are already been made for a second edition with rumours of even better quality teams and doubling the prize money to $200,000 for the winner. It would be great for the sport to have an annual tournament where the best club teams from around the world participate to be crowned world champions. I hope to be there in 2014!

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