Every player has his or her own superstitions that they like to observe ahead of a big match. Putting the right boot on before the left, stepping onto the field of play with one or the other foot first, that kind of thing. Russia’s Sergey Abramov is like all the rest, except for the fact that he only has the one pre-match ritual. "I don’t normally give interviews", the attacker told FIFA.com, just two days before the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016.
'Normal' no longer applies ahead of a World Cup final, so Abramov was happy to make an exception to his rule – maybe due to the fact that in the previous match, he had notched the kind of dream goal guaranteed to make anyone more talkative. The score in the semi-final against Iran was 1-1 when a corner came back to him on the edge of the area. The 26-year-old hit it first time and volleyed the ball into the back of the net. "I’ve seen the goal a few times since then, and I’m pretty sure I’ll check it out again after the tournament", the 5’7 (1.70m) predator said proudly.
Abramov has made a name for himself by scoring highlight-reel goals when the stakes are at their highest. In the semi-finals of the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016, he lobbed the ball over a Serbian defender out on the wing and again volleyed the ball home, this time somehow curving the ball past the keeper with the outside of his foot. "I almost prefer that goal to the one I scored against Iran," said Abramov, who has a daughter about to turn two years old. “They are totally different goals, but that one was somehow that little bit better."
The blond-haired Russian No9, whose own birthday was just a few weeks ago, on 9 September, is a picture of calm when it comes to analysing his own game, and the same applies to the forthcoming final, which – outwardly at least – does not seem to be giving him butterflies just yet. "I actually seem to remain very composed ahead of matches like this, so I hope that that will be the case here in Colombia," said Abramov, who is playing in his first Futsal World Cup. Despite that previous lack of experience, he already has an excellent tournament to look back on.
I actually seem to remain very composed ahead of matches like this, so I hope that that will be the case here in Colombia.
Eyes on the prize
"I feel good here, I’m really enjoying the World Cup," he said, with two goals and an assist already to his name in Colombia. "It’s great to see so many other teams playing, and then of course there’s the atmosphere in the arenas. The fans might not necessarily be on our side, but it’s still a great feeling when they crank up the noise."
And the best is hopefully yet to come. Tomorrow, 1 October, Russia will face Argentina in the final (kick-off: 21:30 pm CET). This is the first time that the Eastern Europeans have made it this far, but they have every chance of taking the trophy home. Abramov and his team-mates have looked incredibly focused on the road to Cali and clearly have their eyes on the top prize. Up until now, nothing and no-one has been able to stop them.
Only the Albiceleste now stand between them and the trophy, and Abramov – who grew up near to Yekaterinburg, on the border of Europe and Asia – is certainly brimming with confidence, although not to the extent that he will be drawn into any bold predictions. When asked who will win the final, he merely smiled and proffered: "It will definitely be a great game for all the fans".
His hope, of course, is that the Russian fans are the ones celebrating at the end, so now it is time to focus on the match again. And despite breaking his no-interview rule, the attacker knows that it is skill, not ritual or superstition, that will decide the outcome of the biggest match of his career to date.