Russian futsal squad head to Budapest for gold

The Russian futsal team is hoping to win the European Championships in Budapest. With less than a week left before the tournament they held an open training session and revealed their ambitious plans.

Team Russia are the 1999 European champions and multiple silver and bronze medalists of the World and European championships.

This is yet to become a reality for the Russian national football team, but is the true history of their compatriots representing the country in the sport of futsal, or mini-football, which gets its name from the way the sport used to be called in Russia in the past.

The new generation of Russian players is looking to repeat the 11-year old triumph and in just a few days they will get their chance at the upcoming futsal EURO-2010 competition to be held in Hungary.

“The 1999 team was nothing but awesome. As for the present squad, it's pretty good, too – combining a number of experienced players with some who are young and hungry for victory,” Russia’s futsal federation president, Semen Varlamov, said, adding that the team are “ready to succeed.”

With four groups of three teams each, the Russians will start their campaign with a battle against Slovenia on January 20. Four days after that, they’ll take on Serbia.

“We have to win both games at the group stage. That's what we're now focused on, although our main goal is far more ambitious. But first, we need to get off to a good start and gain confidence – both in terms of the result and our performance,” explains captain Konstantin Mayevsky.

Unlike their cautious skipper, some of his teammates get straight to the point. Their one and only goal is the title. “We are ready and highly motivated. And we're going there for one reason – to become champions,” says striker Sirillo.

Russia needs to claim first place in the group to avoid facing the reigning European champions and undisputed favorites Spain, in the final.

However, the ultimate task – to win gold – always means you need to beat any opponent, no matter how strong he is, said head coach Sergey Skorovich. “My boys are looking forward to the tournament – to prove they can beat any team. Russia won the European championships quite a while ago, in 1999. But now we have everything needed to repeat that triumph.”