Shocks were conspicuous by their absence on day eight as the concluding matches in Groups B and D adhered closesly to the expected script. That was good news for a quartet of title contenders, with Argentina, Iran, Italy and Spain all marching on to the last 16 after impressive wins. For Australia and a duo of newcomers in Mexico and Morocco, on the other hand, it spelled the end of the road at Thailand 2012.
Defeat did not end the adventure of another band of newcomers though, with Panama guaranteed of going through as one of the best third-placed teams despite going down 3-2 to Iran.
Mexico 2-5 Italy
Australia 1-7 Argentina
Iran 4-3 Panama
Morocco 1-5 Spain
Goal of the day
Mexico-Italy, 2-3, Morgan Plata, 33’ 50”
While many of the best futsal goals emanate from intricate team play, this one was all about individual brilliance. Morgan Plata picked up the ball midway inside his own half and embarked on a memorable solo run that culminated in him skipping inside a challenge and scooping the ball delicately over the advancing keeper.
Songs of praise for the Huamark Hawk
This has been a tournament full of eye-catching comebacks, and another was produced during Italy’s 5-2 victory over Mexico at Huamark Indoor Stadium. Not by the players though. Instead, the falcon that had landed on the pitch during Egypt’s meeting with Czech Republic was back, and this time its incursion on to the field of play considerably more mischievous. The bird’s favourite landing spots on this occasion were inside the two penalty areas, from where it seemed to tease the respective goalkeepers, inviting each to attempt a catch. Members of Italy’s backroom staff and tournament volunteers did attempt to seize this elusive rascal, but the fans were very much on the falcon’s side, cheering and chanting in support each time it evaded capture.
A magnificent miss
Although finding the net is the object of football, there are occasionally misses every bit as memorable as the greatest goals. Pele’s dummying of the Uruguay keeper in 1970 is a legendary example, but another was provided today by Alan Calo in Argentina’s 7-1 victory over Australia. Having baffled his marker with an outrageous piece of skill, the Albiceleste No14 then evaded the keeper and shot just over – all with one foot, in one electrifying movement. Though the game wasn’t short on goals, it was the replay of Calo's near miss on the big screens that drew gasps and a collective exclamation of ‘Wow’ from the wide-eyed crowd.
Germans join the party
It’s rare to have a World Cup without Germany, but the failure of their team to qualify hasn’t deterred a group of fans from paying a pilgrimage to Thailand 2012. Others at the Huamark Indoor Stadium may have wondered if this noisy group of students had wandered into the wrong tournament when they began chanting for their homeland and waving the national flag. But in each match, these good-natured Germans quickly devoted their energies to backing the underdogs, roaring on Mexico and Morocco at every opportunity. “We’ve come along to bring some extra atmosphere,” they told FIFA.com, their mission evidently accomplished.
Stat of the day
100 - Cristian Borruto’s opener against Australia was Argentina’s 100th goal at the FIFA Futsal World Cup. La Albiceleste are the fifth team to reach this landmark after Brazil, Spain, Russia and Italy.
“What's really amazed me has been the rhythm and precision some of the teams play with. With Italy, for example, it was a real pleasure just to be on the same pitch.” Mexico coach Ramon Raya on lessons learned in El Tri’s debut FIFA Futsal World Cup
The next games
Friday 9 November 2012 (local times)
Solomon Islands-Guatemala, 17.00