In their opening match of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004, Egypt were in uncompromising mood. Their victims were the unfortunate hosts of the competition, Chinese Taipei. In a match that amounted to one-way traffic, the Pharaohs showed some lovely skill that should enable them to ruffle a few feathers amongst the favourites. For Chinese Taipei, meanwhile, it looks likely to be a very tough tournament.
"I hope that the Chinese Taipei team can improve with every game." Rather than gloating at their one-sided goal glut, these were the supportive words of Egypt's general coach. "We knew our standard was considerably higher than that of Chinese Taipei, and this gap was illustrated tonight." Well disciplined and generally more skilful than their opponents, the Egyptians dominated this first Group A encounter to an almost embarrassing degree.
To see Chinese Taipei in possession of the ball, you needed to be watching right from the very first minute of this inaugural encounter, for soon after that, the young locals fell back into defence, inviting the Egyptians to come onto them. The Pharaohs duly responded, threatening through Ayman Ibrahim in only the 3rd minute. Chinese Taipei's retort was considerably more dangerous and spectacular, as Chien Ying Chang's strike rattled the Egyptian bar one minute later. For while Egypt were bossing these opening minutes in terms of possession, it was their hosts who were looking more likely to draw first blood, with Hsiang Chang also forcing Mohamed Sayed into a double save (5').
Egypt rode their luck before opening the scoring through captain Gehad Sayed (1-0, 7'), quickly followed by a second from Wael Abdel Mawla (2-0, 8'). Two goals behind and already having clocked up four accumulated fouls, Chinese Taipei's Belgian coach, Damien Knabben had no other choice than to call a time-out in an attempt to regroup. It made little difference, however, as the locals has soon fallen further behind, this time through Ayman Ibrahim (3-0, 13'), with the same player adding another a few minutes later (4-0, 17'). Worse was to come in the final minute of the first half, as Chinese Taipei literally collapsed, conceding twice more at the hands of Abdel Hakim Mohamed and Gehad Sayed (6-0, 20').
Braces for Abdel Mawal and Ibrahim
After the break, matters rapidly resumed in the same vein, as Ayman Ibrahim again took advantage of some abject defending (7-0, 23') and the hapless Tai Lin Tseng scored an own goal (8-0, 24'). Understandably, at this point, the Pharaohs took their foot off the gas somewhat and started to spray the ball around. By the time ten minutes had elapsed in the second half, the home team had again accumulated four fouls, preventing them from taking any big risks. Khaled Mahmoud took full advantage to find the back of Hsien Chung Yeh's net (9-0, 32'), and two minutes later it was ten, with Mohamed Abdelhamid on target this time (10-0, 34').
With the cries of their vociferous home support ringing in their ears, the Chinese Taipei players, now cutting disconsolate figures, were forced to endure further punishment. Latching onto a clever little through ball, Wael Abdel Mawal bagged the eleventh for the Pharaohs (11-0, 35'), before a Gerhad Sayed free-kick, awarded for a sixth Chinese Taipei foul, completed the rout from ten metres out (12-0, 38').
This FIFA Futsal World Championship risks being a painful learning curve for Chinese Taipei. "We are here to learn," Damien Knabben declared after the game. "We lack the technique and experience needed to cope with this kind of match. We conceded some awful goals, but that's what happens if you make mistakes at the highest level. I'm not at all surprised by this defeat." And when one considers that many consider that Egypt are not in the same bracket as Spain and Ukraine, the other sides in Group A, you get an idea of the scale of the task facing the hosts.