Dangerous teams such as Spain, Nigeria and Uruguay lost on the opening day of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009. It served as indication of the growing unpredictability of the sport, and as a warning to the favoured sides heading into an intriguing Day 2.
Game of the day
Solomon Islands-United Arab Emirates, 19.30 (local time)
After nearly squandering a five-goal lead on Day 1 of Dubai 2009, the talented James Naka and his fellow Solomons will need to be on their guard if they are to earn points against the impressive hosts. Though they lost to Portugal, Bakhit Alabadla and his UAE team-mates showed a lot of class as they pushed the mighty Europeans to the limit. With a likely repeat of the strong, local support that UAE received from the stands this evening, it may be the only inspiration they will need to secure their first win and challenge the Group A leaders.
The other match in Group A features teams who are riding rather different waves of emotion. Uruguay dropped a hard-fought match to Solomon Islands, while Portugal are fresh from recovering a three-goal deficit to emerge victorious over United Arab Emirates.
It is still uncertain whether the injured Amarelle will join his cohorts in their effort to kick-start their Dubai 2009 campaign. Certainly Spanish fingers will be crossed as they prepare to take on a determined El Salvador side that, despite losing their initial match, notched six goals on the opening day of the competition. Elsewhere in Group B, Côte d'Ivoire face Japan in a match that will end with one of these combatants seizing the summit.
After a heart-breaking, extra-time loss to Italy, Argentina head into their confrontation with Costa Rica looking to earn their first win, while at the same time hoping Russia can overcome Gli Azzurri, a combination of results that would propel them into second place, assuming they can manage to earn a victory in regular time.
Group D will feature winning sides that opened and closed Day 1 on Jumeirah Beach in fine fashion, with newcomers Switzerland taking on Nigeria and defending champions Brazil poised to face Bahrain. After an expected, but still altogether riveting, display of beach soccer savvy against Nigeria, surely the Brazilians will be ready to offer more thrills and spills to their fans here in Dubai and those tuning in around the world.
Player to watch
Bakhit Alabadla (United Arab Emirates)
"It is good to start with a 5-1 (victory). If we win the next game, we are in the quarter-finals and that is our aim. But we have to keep on improving certain things. We are very disciplined in the defence and, even if we don’t have big names or big stars, we have a good group," Russia coach Nokolai Pisarev.
Costa Rica-Argentina (13:30)
Japan-Côte d'Ivoire (13:30)
El Salvador-Spain (16:30)
Solomon Islands-United Arab Emirates (19:30)