Egyptian hopes on Hakim
© AFP

In their fourth appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, Egypt will be looking to impress once again with at least a run to the second round. The team arrived in Brazil last week and played two friendly matches against the host nation with mixed results - a 6-0 loss and a 2-2 draw.

"Brazil is such a spectacular side," said team coach Mowafak Elsayed. "Every time we play against them we learn new tricks, and to draw with them in a friendly is a big boost before the finals."

After losing their African title to Libya earlier in the year, the Egyptians participated in an August friendly tournament in Brazil in May, and faced futsal superpowers Italy in two warm-up matches, where they lost 4-0 and 2-1.

The Pharaohs have set their sights on "reaching the second round" as their head of delegation and Egyptian FA board member, Hazem Hawari, told FIFA.com.

They will open their Group C campaign against Central American side Guatemala in Brasilia on 1 October. The North Africans are tipped to win the match, but despite their experience and talent, Hawari admits that his team's task won't be an easy one. "We have nothing but respect for China and Guatemala, but we must win those two games."

"Argentina look to be the group favourites, which means we will fight it out against Ukraine for the second ticket," he added.

Hakim hopes
Hawari stayed behind in Cairo to ensure the release of the team's star Mahmoud Abdel Hakim, who plays for Egyptian Premier League side Petrojet.

Hakim, who was once a professional futsal player in Belgium before returning to Egypt and professional football, is delighted to be rejoining his team-mates in Brazil.

"I am a football player now, but I always enjoy futsal," he said. "I am very thankful to my club for releasing me when they were not obliged to do so, and allowing me to appear in such an event to defend the colours of my country."

Petrojet, knowing the value of their talented player, are only willing to let him go after they face Cairo giants Al Ahly in a crucial contest on Thursday. After that, Hakim will board a plane, trade his studs in for flats and hopefully fire Egyptian dreams in Brazil.