Although the AFC champions went into the tournament as the undisputed kings of Asian beach soccer, they were something of an unknown quantity at world level. That is most certainly not the case any longer following a dazzling display of teamwork, individual skills and opportunistic finishing that left the Azzurri in tatters.
Not surprisingly, their Brazilian coach Gustavo Zlocewick was all smiles after the final whistle. "This is an absolutely vital win for us, particularly as it will give the players lots of self-belief," he commented. "We only started working back in April and some of the guys didn't even know how many players there were in a team. We stuck to the right tactics though, kept our mind on the job and showed our class. If we can start like this, who knows what we can achieve? We could be even better than Brazil in a couple of years," he grinned.
The tactically disciplined Bahrainis made a fast start in the first period and showed their finishing skills to race into a deserved 2-0 lead courtesy of Ebrahim Ali and a Rashed Salem free kick.
Massimo Agostini's side managed to step up the tempo in the second period, forcing some fine saves from Salah Mohamed in the Bahrain goal, with Roberto Pasquali and Simone Feudi both going close. Italian insistence finally paid off however when Pasquali cut the deficit from long range.
Pressing hard for an equaliser in the third and final period, the Europeans neglected their defensive duties and were made to pay by the speedy Bahraini front line. Yaqoob Khalifa rounded off a fine move to make it 3-1, and Salem added a fourth before Pasquali gave the scoreline a more respectable look in the final minute.
The disappointment was clear to see on coach Agostini's face as he spoke afterwards. "The players performed poorly," he lamented. "We missed a lot of chances and were made to pay for it. I just hope we can get our strength back and raise our game in the next match. We need to win our final two games to get through."
Referees: Renato De Carlos (BRA), Pedro Infantes (VEN), Sofien Benchabane (FRA).