Everything hangs in the balance on day eight of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012, with four matches set to decide who will qualify from Groups B and D. Italy at least are sure of their passage to the next round, leaving the other sides in Group D to tussle over the second spot. Group B is just as exciting, with frontrunners Spain and Iran only a single point clear of third-placed Panama.
This is a crucial match-up, and with the winner guaranteed a place in the next round, it has the makings of a fiercely contested fixture. If Argentina prevail it will be the sixth time - and the third in succession - they have made it past the tournament’s group stages, while Australia are looking for their first-ever appearance in the knockout phase.
The South Americans go into the game with a clear advantage following their solid performance against Italy, but Australia should not be taken lightly. When these two teams last met four years ago in a friendly international, the Futsalroos impressed with a draw.
With qualification secured, Italy coach Roberto Menichelli’s next task is to ensure his side stay top of the group in their meeting with last-placed Mexico. And if they play to their ability, the Europeans have the quality to win, and comfortably.
Spain and Morocco’s Group B encounter is of critical importance to the Iberians, who dearly want to hang onto first place and make sure of qualification. For his part, Morocco coach Hicham Dguig sees the game as a chance “to give a better impression of Moroccan futsal”.
The second game in Group B, which sees Iran and Panama go head to head, is another match that is hard to call. Neither side has shown consistency over the course of their last two games and much will depend on which team turns up on the night.
Player to watch
He might not have a goal to his name at Thailand 2012, but Spain and Barcelona forward Torras has been a delight to watch and made a crucial contribution to his side’s win over Panama. Of Spain’s ten goals at the tournament thus far, he has provided assists for three of them.
99 – The total number of goals scored by Argentina at FIFA Futsal World Cups. The next Argentinian to score will go down in the books as the man to complete the century. On the other hand, Saad Assis’ goal in their match against Italy was the 100th goal La Albiceleste have conceded in all appearances at the tournament.
“We know how hard the next match will be. Argentina are one of the best sides in the world, while my guys are still learning. That said, we won’t surrender and we have to do the best we can to slow them down and hang in there. Otherwise, they’ll show us no mercy,” Australia coach Steven Knight.
Australia-Argentina (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 17.00)
Mexico-Italy (Bangkok, Indoor Stadium Huamark, 17.00)
Iran-Panama (Bangkok, Nimibutr Stadium, 19.00)
Morocco-Spain (Indoor Stadium Huamark, 19.00)
(All kick-off times are local)