Tuesday’s action at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 saw Ukraine take a giant stride towards a berth in the next round and Czech Republic, Iran and Guatemala all live to fight another day. The day's results universally went in favour of teams currently in the second tier of the world game, but who may be poised to challenge the established order sooner rather than later.
By contrast, Libya, Uruguay, Egypt and China PR’s slim hopes of making the next stage were finally extinguished. Nothing else was finally settled on Matchday 8, as hosts Brazil remain the only team definitely through to the last sixteen.
The big game
Czech Republic - Libya 4-2
Czech Republic offered abundant evidence that, even if you rarely win anything with kids, you can still perform with great credit. The youngest of the European sides at the tournament punished African champions Libya for a below-par display to run out deserved 4-2 winners. However, Tomas Neumann’s talented youngsters must now beat Asian champions Iran to stay in the tournament, guaranteeing a tense and dramatic encounter.
Yousef Mohamed and Mohamed Rahoma did their best to stave off the Libyan defeat, hauling their side back into it after Michal Mares and Marek Kopecky had put the Czechs two up. However, Martin Dlouhy and Tomas Sluka restored the two-goal cushion, which the Europeans protected to the end. The young Czechs certainly buzzed with the kind of resilience they will need to withstand mighty Iran.
The other games
Elsewhere, the same Iranians once again underscored their credentials as a sound outside bet for the title. The Asian champions kept their cool against a passionate and hot-blooded Uruguay team to seal a 4-2 victory.
Ukraine also staked an emphatic claim to a place at futsal’s top table with a thoroughly disciplined 5-1 victory over Egypt. Coach Gennadiy Lisenchuk’s side is solid and perhaps unspectacular, but deservedly go top of Group C with the kind of winning mentality typical of a successful team.
A robust physical build combined with plenty of skill is perhaps the most dangerous weapon in futsal. Carlos Estrada boasts all this in spades, and made best use of his attributes in netting three times as Guatemala coasted to a 10-1 win over China PR.
Daniel Tejada (GUA)
Complementing Estrada’s contribution, Guatemala’s agile, pacy and dangerous number six turned in a fine display as the Central Americans eased past China PR. The 21-year-old was one of the game's key players, helping himself to a brace and also supplying two inch-perfect assists.
3 – After defeating Egypt 10-3 in 1996 and 5-4 in 2004, Ukraine have now completed a hat-trick of wins over the Africans at the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
What they said
"We’ve proved we haven’t come to Brazil just for a holiday. We’re capable of matching anyone," Carlos Merida, Guatemala player
All the results
China PR - Guatemala 1-10
Czech Republic - Libya 4-2
Ukraine - Egypt 5-1
Iran - Uruguay 4-2