THE DAY REPLAYED – There was a Hispanic flavour to day three of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016, as Spain, Argentina and Costa Rica all won their opening games of the competition.
In recording an emphatic defeat of the ever-awkward Iran in Group F, two-time world champions Spain issued a very clear message to their rivals. In the other game in the section, Azerbaijan recorded an equally convincing win over Morocco to get their campaign off to the best possible start.
The results were altogether tighter in Group E, where Argentina earned a potentially vital and hard-fought win over Kazakhstan, and Costa Rica picked up three points as expected against Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands 2-4 Costa Rica
Argentina 1-0 Kazakhstan
Morocco 0-5 Azerbaijan
Iran 1-5 Spain
Azerbaijan’s naturalised Brazilian Vassoura had a Futsal World Cup debut to remember, scoring three of his side’s five goals as they registered their first ever win in the competition. The 31-year old defender lived up to his name, which is the Portuguese for “broom”, sweeping past the Moroccan defence with ease.
A cunning plan
Solomon Islands coach Miltinho’s tactic of switching keepers on the two occasions Costa Rica were awarded an unopposed ten-metre penalty worked to perfection, with Los Ticos failing to convert either of them. While Paul Huia was a spectator as Alejandro Paniagua’s shot flashed wide from the first of those dead-ball opportunities, he excelled himself on the second, sticking a right foot out to divert Edgar Cubillo’s effort.
Shotstoppers in the crowd
Spain’s meeting with Iran saw some impromptu goalkeeping in the stands, with first a Roja fan and then a policeman both expertly fielding wayward shots from the court and receiving a round of applause for their efforts. While the Spain supporter responded to the plaudits by dancing and waving his flag around, the officer of the law maintained his composure and kept a very straight face.
Third time lucky
Held to respective 2-2 and 3-3 draws by Iran in their opening matches at Brazil 2008 and Thailand 2012, Spain finally got the better of Team Melli in their Colombia 2016 debut. In doing so, they extended their unbeaten run against the Iranians, which stretches back to a 4-2 defeat at Hong Kong 1992.
100 per cent - in beating Kazakhstan, Argentina maintained their record of winning all of their opening matches at the Futsal World Cup, which now stretches to eight games in as many tournaments.
“It goes without saying that there was a big difference between the teams. It’s always a challenge for a coach to find solutions when you miss so many chances. Despite the result, though, I’m not disappointed with the players.”
Morocco coach Hicham Dguig
“It was a big challenge for us to face Costa Rica and to be playing at this level. We know we made mistakes, but we had our chances and I think the match could have gone either way. Even so, I’m proud of my boys.”
Solomon Islands coach Juliano Schmeling
“Iran showed how well they can play. If they keep performing like that, they’ll be contenders for the title. They forced us to change tactics, and it was thanks to that switch and our quality that we managed to make the difference.”
Spain coach Venancio Lopez
“We’re fairly pleased because the World Cup has only just started and we expected to have a few teething problems. The team didn’t play as well as I would have liked, but keeping a clean sheet was crucial to our winning the game.”
Argentina coach Diego Giustozzi
Tuesday 13 September (all times local)