The complete line-up for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™ will be known in a few days’ time.
With 22 of the 24 World Cup berths already filled, only four of Asia’s teams can still aspire to take part in futsal’s showpiece event this September. Iraq go up against Thailand, while Vietnam face off against Lebanon. The winners of the two play-offs, which will take place over two legs on 20 and 25 May, advance to the global finals.
The two triumphant sides will complete the list of Asian qualifiers and join Japan, IR Iran and Uzbekistan, who were nominated by the AFC to represent the confederation based on their record at recent AFC Futsal Championships in the wake of the cancellation of the 2020 edition.
If they were to overcome Thailand, hosts of the 2012 World Cup, Iraq would be making their maiden appearance on futsal’s world stage.
However, the Thais have been one of Asia’s strongest and most consistent sides in recent years, with three World Cup appearances already to their name, even if they are yet to go beyond the group stage. At continental level, they have twice finished runners-up in the Asian Futsal Championship (in 2008 and 2012) and underlined their status as favourites for this game with a recent 1-0 friendly win over UAE.
For their part, Lebanon would also be participating in their first World Cup if they were to prevail against Vietnam, who debuted at the event at the last edition in Colombia in 2016. There the southeast Asians impressed by reaching the last 16, where they were comprehensively beaten by eventual finalists Russia. Vietnam will therefore be aiming to justify their billing as firm favourites for this tie and make back-to-back appearance at the global event.
The FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 kicks off on 12 September, with the final scheduled for 3 October in Klaipeda.