Expectations are high for day three of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, with several teams set to make their first ever appearance in the global showcase.
Newcomers Kuwait and Serbia are keenly awaiting their tournament bows against respective Group E hopefuls Egypt and the Czech Republic, while in Group F debutants Colombia will also be getting their first taste of the competition when they tackle Latin American rivals Guatemala. The latter section also features the opening match for Russia and their prolific striker Pula, whom the Solomon Islands will be desperate to keep quiet.
Match of the day
Egypt-Serbia, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 3 November 2012, 21.00 (local time)
Serbia may be gracing the FIFA Futsal World Cup for the first time in their history, but they have no intention of simply making up the numbers when they begin their maiden campaign. Quarter-finalists in the last two UEFA Futsal EUROs, Aca Kovacevic's charges are currently rated as one of the Europe's six strongest sides.
Egypt would thus be wise to beware their upcoming opponents, though there ought to be little danger of complacency after they suffered a 6-1 loss to Serbia in the Grand Prix de Futsal four years ago. Perhaps crucially, coach Badr Khalil can count upon a number of players who picked up experience at Brazil 2008 as his team targets revenge and the best of starts at Thailand 2012.
Shortly after that match, Kuwait will enjoy their own introduction to the global stage when they take on the Czech Republic, who are contesting their third edition and will be bolstered by a raft of old hands at this level. Victory would take the European challengers a significant step closer to the knockout phase, after they fell at the first hurdle four years ago.
Meanwhile, the spectators in attendance at the match between Russia and the Solomon Islands will surely be mindful of the two sides' meeting at Brazil 2008, when Russia slotted 31 goals past the then tournament debutants. Unsurprisingly, the Oceanian aspirants are determined to present a stiffer challenge this time around.
The other game in Group F pits new boys Colombia against Guatemala, who were the last side to book their ticket to Thailand 2012 courtesy of a 2-1 triumph against USA.
Player to watch
The eyes of every Russia fan – and surely those of the Solomon Islands players – will be focused on explosive forward Pula, who set a new benchmark for goals scored in a single FIFA Futsal World Cup match when he plundered nine against the same opponents at Brazil 2008. Much is expected of the forward once again and he will be hungry for a repeat performance, while the Solomon Islands will be anxious to somehow blunt his edge.
5 – Colombia are the fifth South American team to dispute a FIFA Futsal World Cup and can now count themselves among the continental elite, alongside world champions Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Arney Fonnegra and his players can draw strength and motivation from the fact that no South American side has ever exited the tournament in the group stage.
"In Thailand, we want to play our style of futsal based on teamwork and measure ourselves against the best sides in the world. It would be good to be on the same level as our opponents and why not win one or two matches?" Luis Fonseca, Kuwait coach.
Czech Republic-Kuwait (Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 19.00)
Guatemala-Colombia (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 17.00)
Russia-Solomon Islands (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 19.00)
Egypt-Serbia (Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 21.00)
(All kick-off times are local)