It is a case of first-day winners against first-day losers on Matchday 2 in Groups C and D of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013, with the potential for half of the quarter-final line-up to be decided one round of games early. FIFA.com looks ahead to day three of the tournament.
Match of the day
Ukraine-Brazil, Friday 20 September, Group C, 20:30 (local time)
After impressing in their first outing against Iran, Brazil will need to be on their guard against the dangerous Ukrainians. Though they will start the game as favourites, the South Americans will need no reminding of the threat they face. Two years ago in Ravenna they needed a penalty shootout to see off the stubborn eastern Europeans. The four-time world champions will also be mindful that their only defeats in the world finals have come against European opposition: to France in 2005 and Russia in 2011.
Fourteen of the players who appeared in that previous meeting in Italy will be on duty again here – eight of them Ukrainians and six Brazilians – which points to another tight encounter. Tactically disciplined and committed, Sergiy Kucherenko’s charges will also be motivated by the fact that they need to win to stay in control of their destiny in the race for a last-eight place.
Iran take on Senegal in the day’s other match in Group C, one that the Africans will be expected to win in light of their victorious debut against Ukraine, which has given them a little margin for error, and their 100 per cent record against the Iranians. Senegal have prevailed in both previous meetings between the teams, romping to a 4-1 victory at Marseille 2008 and winning 5-3 at Ravenna 2011, a record that does not bode well for an Iran side looking to qualify from the group phase for the first time in five attempts.
Over in Group D, defending champions Russia will go in search of their second win against Côte d’Ivoire. The record books favour the holders, who have won both their games against African opposition in the world finals, beating Cameroon 4-0 in Marseille and then overpowering Nigeria 8-4 en route to the title in 2011. After suffering their worst ever defeat in the competition against Paraguay on day one, the Ivorians will need to react quickly if they are to avoid an early exit.
Keeping one eye on that game will be Paraguay, section leaders on goal difference, and Japan, who face off in a match that looks to close to call, even if it pits together a side making their debut in the competition against a team who have contested every world finals held to date. Eliminated in the first round at Ravenna 2011, the Japanese must take something from this match to avoid suffering the same fate again.
Player to watch
Babacar Fall (Senegal)
The 24-year-old wide man scored two goals in 27 seconds in his side’s opening-day defeat of Ukraine, twice the number he managed in four games in Ravenna in 2011. Fall helped himself to two more goals against the Ukrainians to ensure that all eyes will be on him when he runs out against Iran. The question is, can the towering goal machine click into gear again on Friday?
5 - The number of times Japan have lost to South American teams since winning their first game against one of the region’s sides, a 4-3 defeat of Uruguay at Brazil 2005. Four of those reverses came against the mighty Brazil (in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011), and other against the Uruguayans, who exacted their revenge on the Japanese in 2007.