The competition’s hot favourites Brazil and Russia have both made 100 per cent starts, but the pair must beat Senegal and Paraguay in their final games in Group C and D respectively to totally guarantee their places in the quarter-finals here at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013.
Sharing those objectives and requirements are Japan and Iran, though neither will face easy tasks against next opponents Côte d’Ivoire and Ukraine respectively – both of whom are still in with a mathematical chance of reaching the last eight. FIFA.com takes a look ahead at the fifth day of action.
After two matches Iran have three points to Ukraine’s none, though both sides displayed similarly impressive levels of tactical discipline and physical fitness when going down to defeat against Group C rivals and beach-soccer powerhouses Brazil.
In a worrying stat for the Asian outfit, however, Iran have won only one (against Spain in 2007) and lost six of their encounters with European teams at this competition. Ukraine, in contrast, won their only previous meeting with an AFC opponent (versus Japan in 2011) but do not have their fate in their own hands. The eastern Europeans must win big and hope Senegal lose before discovering their destiny.
The section’s other game features Brazil and Senegal, with A Seleção clear favourites over and above their table-topping six-point tally. Though aware they could still progress even in defeat, the 2011 runners-up will not wish to leave anything to chance. The Africans, whose only previous meetings with South American opponents were a win and a loss against Uruguay, have three points and must win to progress without having to rely on an unlikely mathematical scenario.
Group D is panning out in similar fashion. Reigning champions Russia will definitely qualify in case of a win versus Paraguay, though they could make the last eight even if defeated. If the history books are anything to go by, Russia will need to be wary, having won two and lost four of their six encounters against CONMEBOL teams. La Albirroja’s three points so far have them firmly in the hunt, but only a win against the holders will keep their hopes alive.
Even so, having lost their previous game against Japan, Paraguay will lose out on head-to-head record should both teams finish on six points. The Japanese can thus secure their involvement in the last eight by sinking the group’s bottom team Côte d’Ivoire, but the Africans are sure not to make life easy. The Samurai Blue have the stats on their side, however, having won the nations’ only previous encounter at this competition 3-2 in Dubai in 2009.
Player to watch
Mohammad Ahmadzadeh (IRN)
Now boasting 11 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup goals, the Iranian pivot has scored more than any other AFC player in this competition’s history. In a warning shot to next opponents Ukraine, three of the 26-year-old’s strikes came against European nations: the first against France in 2006; the second against Spain in 2007 and the third versus Switzerland in 2011.
9 – Russia have fired nine goals so far at Tahiti 2013 and are also nine short of the 100-goal mark in FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups. Only two countries have exceeded that landmark figure: Brazil with 298 and Portugal on 193.
*All matches will be played at Papeete’s To’ata Stadium.