28 April 2016 12:00
Few minutes following a historic qualification for the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, the attitude of Ricardo Muendane was everything but joyful.
Ricardo had just led his teammates to achieve a milestone of qualifying for the 2016 FIFA World Cup after beating Zambia 2-1 on penalties at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena in Johannesburg. It was the first ever time the Southern African country had qualified for the final tournament of a global Futsal championship.
From a personal perspective, the South African campaign was crowned with a Golden Boot award, after scoring 10 goals at the tournament held from 15-24 April 2016 in South Africa.
But his presence in Colombia, host country of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, is not certain and is even more hypothetical given that he appears to be injured. Paradoxical, isn't it? For the World Cup could be considered as the summit of a sporting career.
“I have fulfilled my task of qualifying my country to the World Cup. But my mind is not on the World Cup, and I do not particularly wish to participate”, Ricardo Lenio Mendes Muendane confided in a flat tone, and in a rather formal English without the least emotional expression.
Of course! Nevertheless ... His face lights up when he talks about the match ball given to him after the third place match against Zambia in which he scored a hat-trick in the ten-goal thriller in normal time, before the Mozambicans triumphed on penalties.
He requested for and received the match ball from the match officials, as he wished to take it home to his four-year old son who, like many other Mozambicans, watched the country’s historic moment on TV.
He will be 35 on the day of the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup on 1 October 2016, but is far from being physically exhausted and hopes to continue playing Futsal for pleasure with his club - Grupo Desportivo Iquebal in the Maputo Futsal league.
Just as he has been doing since 2004, the year he made Futsal his hobby, for it was easier combining it with his studies than football.
“I do not drink, I do not smoke, I am not into excesses. I can still play for a while”, the Mozambique captain added.
Ricardo has given up his dream of a professional career abroad. In 2010 however, he was close to having this dream transformed into reality. Following a tournament in Brazil, he got an offer to play in Czech Republic, but due to administrative bottlenecks in Mozambique, the opportunity could not be concretised.
So there is no need to remind him of the exposure that the World Cup guarantees in a bid to change his stance and sell the dream to him once more. He seems determined to end his international career after a second participation at the Futsal Africa Cup of Nations, after making his debut in 2008 in Libya.
“I am mentally tired. It is a veritable sacrifice. I train twice weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays for 1 hour 30 minutes and I play on Fridays. The beautiful thing is that all this is scheduled out of working hours so I can reconcile my passion for futsal and my job. But I have to drive long distances, taking charge of fuel and maintenance charges of my vehicle without support.
The employee of the Mozambican Water Distribution Company is a family man with two kids - a 4-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl, to whom he now wishes to give the greater part of his time.
Given especially that he is increasingly finding it difficult to make his spouse understand why he dilapidates a part of his revenue for this hobby which is nothing but time and energy consuming. And the final say on whether or not Ricardo participates in the World Cup would have to come from this small family. So what do you say, Mrs Muendane?