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THAILAND PREPARES FOR FUTSAL WORLD CUP KICK OFF
SPORT - EVENTS - VENUES - ASSOCIATIONS - MANAGEMENT The Futsal Committee of world football governing body FIFA has amended the schedule for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 so that the first matches in the 24-team competition will kick off on Thursday 1st November 2012. The matches are set to take place across three venues in Bangkok - Nonjok Stadium, Huamark Indoor Stadium and Nimibutr Stadium - and at Korat Stadium in the north eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, with the final taking place on Sunday 18th November. A full match schedule for the tournament will be published soon, with FIFA set to evaluate the construction progress of the Nonjok Stadium at the end of April. Thailand, as hosts, and the Solomon Islands, champions from the Oceania Football Confederation's preliminary competition, are the first two countries to qualify. The cream of world Futsal (indoot five-a-side football) are set to contest the enlarged world finals featuring 24 teams in all, four more than in Brazil four years ago. Holders Brazil and perennial rivals Spain are the pre-tournament favourites, the pair having contested three of the last four finals. Brazil and Spain are the only two teams to have won the world title, with Brazil winning in 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2008, sandwiching Spain's two victories in 2000 and 2004. Brazil 2008 attracted no fewer than 292,161 spectators, an all-time high for the FIFA Futsal World Cup, and served up a total of 387 goals, 80 more than the previous tournament record set at Hong Kong 1992. The popularity of the game in Thailand, which boasts its own national championship, was a major factor in the Asian nation being awarded the competition, and organisers are expecting a record number of fans to flock to the event. The hosts have a strong track record in South-East Asia, having won the ASEAN Futsal Championship four times in a row between 2005 and 2008, as well as finishing runner-up in the AFC Futsal Championship in 2008. Looking forward to the event, Football Association of Thailand President and FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi estated "hosting the FIFA Futsal World Cup is a big honour for Thailand. "People will come from all over the world and the experience the famous Thai hospitality."