Just four years ago in Chinese Taipei, an unfancied Czech Republic side sprung a surprise by reaching the second group phase at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2004. And though the gallant Czechs failed to pick up any further points, having been drawn alongside eventual finalists Spain and Italy as well as Portugal, their respectable top-eight finish would serve as some consolation.
Here at Brazil 2008, however, the European outfit have set the bar still higher. "Our aim is the same as all the other teams', and that is to become world champions," star man David Fric told FIFA.com ahead of his side's Group D opener against Uruguay. "However, we are aware that for that to happen we need to take a vital step, which is making it through the first phase. But we want the title."
No first-match fears for Fric and Co
It is often said that the first match at any major tournament is always a daunting experience, and that nerves can easily throw the form book on its head. And at first glance the Czech Republic may appear more susceptible than most to this phenomenon, given their status as Europe's youngest squad here in Brazil. Fric, however, thinks differently: "I think that we've got enough experience because we've played in some very tough games. And, in fact, we already beat Uruguay 3-0 a few months ago at the Grand Prix [Futsal 2008]."
Wary of sounding over-confident, the Eco Investment Prague star moved quickly to clear up any misunderstandings: "Though I do know that we're capable of beating them, they have a tough team and it won't be at all easy." And on what factors could the result hinge? "Not making any mistakes. Whoever makes least mistakes is sure to claim the victory. Apart from that, it's just about scoring one more goal than your opponents," added the 25-year-old defensive player.
Watch and learn
The thrilling 3-3 draw between the Czech's fellow group rivals Spain and Iran still has Fric is a state of shock: "I'd thought the Spaniards would win all their group matches, so that result really surprised me," he admits.
"I mean, we knew that the Iranians were not to be taken lightly, and Libya mustn't be underestimated either after they drew with Uruguay. But even so, I didn't expect it. It's clear that every one of the participating teams has something to offer, and that we ourselves have things to learn."
And though the tournament is still only two matchdays old, the Czech stalwart is happy to give his verdict on the action so far. "We've seen that all the teams are excellently prepared, and I'm sure this will be a great World Cup. I'm certain we'll see several matches that are as good as the Spain-Iran clash," added the man who scored three goals in helping his country qualify for Brazil 2008. "It's a long tournament and you never know which teams will feature in the biggest games. I just hope that Czech Republic are involved in plenty of them."