World and Asian No1s face off

The highlight on Matchday 2 at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 is the clash between world champions Spain and their Asian counterparts Iran. In Group C, FIFA Futsal World Cup 2000 hosts Guatemala and their rivals from Argentina go in search of first-game wins, while Libya will be utterly determined to end a miserable streak for African teams.

The big game
Spain - Iran, Wednesday 1 October, 10.30 am, Rio de Janeiro
On Matchday 2 at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008, two-times world champions Spain cross swords with Asian champions Iran. Starting on 20 November 2000, the Furia Roja have rattled up 12 consecutive victories at FIFA Futsal World Cup finals, but the Iranians have arrived in Brazil determined to upset the established world order.

After claiming the Asian crown nine times in the last ten years, the team coached by Hossein Shams is now keen to spring a surprise or two on a worldwide stage. However, four-time European champions Spain arguably represent the highest hurdle of them all and are sure to go all-out for victory in their opening match.

The other games

The second game in Rio de Janeiro pairs Uruguay and Libya. The African champions, coached by Mato Stankovic and making their maiden appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, will be seeking to emulate the form which saw them overcome favourites Egypt to seal the continental title in front of their jubilant home crowd.

Over in Brasilia, Argentina will be looking for an optimal start to their Group C campaign. The Albiceleste have contested every FIFA Futsal World Cup so far, but have never finished better than their fourth place from 2004. Their opponents in their opening group fixture are China PR, who came fourth in the Asian eliminators. FIFA Futsal World Cup 2000 hosts Guatemala meet Egypt in the second match of the day.

The player
Javi Rodriguez, Spain
After starring at Spain 1996, Guatemala 2000 and Chinese Taipei 2004, 34-year-old Javi Rodriguez will be appearing at the FIFA Futsal World Cup for the fourth time. He has 14 FIFA Futsal World Cup goals to his name, and was a primary contributor to Spain’s trophy triumphs in 2000 and 2004.

The stat
0 – No African team has ever won its debut match at the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Libya will now attempt to succeed where Zimbabwe, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt all failed.

What they said
“We have enormous respect for China and Guatemala, but these are games we must win.” Hazem Hawardi, Egyptian FA executive committee member and delegation head.

All the fixtures (Kick-off times are local)

Argentina - China PR (10.30)
Guatemala - Egypt (12.30)

Rio de Janeiro
Spain - Iran (10.30)
Uruguay - Libya (12.30)

Have Your Say

Can Spain live up to their billing as favourites, or will they run into trouble against Asian champions Iran?