On the second day of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004, only the Portuguese-speaking countries lived up to their billing as contenders for the tournament. Czech Republic and Argentina both scraped narrow wins, but will have to await another day for a chance to turn on the style.
Brazilian favourites underline their class
The Australians had expressed their eagerness to learn from their match with Brazil, Learn they certainly did, but they must have found themselves wishing that the lesson was not quite so hard. The three-time world champions gave a futsal master class to the rapt spectators at Taipei City NTU. From improbable ball juggling to cheeky back heels by way of audacious strikes from impossible angles, the Auriverde showed off all their outrageous natural talent this afternoon.
Not surprisingly therefore, the Futsalroos went in at the break with a mountain to climb (4-0). By the end of the encounter, that mountain had assumed Everest-like proportions, as Brazil hit ten goals with no reply, this despite giving many fringe players a run-out. Australian goalkeeper Gavin O'Brien was not to blame, but when a side has 32 strikes on goal a certain percentage of them are bound to find their target. The Brazilians now look as good as through to the next round, while the Aussies will need to make up the lost ground on Wednesday against the Czech Republic.
Iran disappoint, Portugal prevail
The debut of these two outsiders in the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 had been awaited with great anticipation. Forty minutes later, the impression that the Iberians were a cut above their Asian opponents was inescapable. Overly dependent on the star player Vahid Shamsaee, the Iranians never really troubled this solid Portugal side, as little by little, the Guatemala 2000 bronze medallists built up a healthy lead that leaves them fairly confident of progressing further.
Once Luis Silva had opened the scoring (10'), Iran's rhythm was upset, and they fell victim to indiscipline. The second goal soon followed (Leo, 14'), as did three yellow cards in five minutes for the Asians. From then on, the Portuguese had little difficulty dictating the play. Led by the omnipresent Ivan, Orlando Duarte's charges found the back of the net on two more occasions in the second half to claim a clear-cut victory (4-0). The Iranians, who have targeted the semi-finals, simply cannot afford to slip up again.
Close shave for the Czechs
Czech Republic got their win in the end, but they left it late! Clearly overawed by their first match at the FIFA Futsal World Championship, Michael Stríz's men only took control of the game in the last five minutes, a fact that also had a great deal to do with a surprisingly impressive Thailand team.
Having opened the scoring from the penalty spot, the young Thais elected to sit deep rather than keep on probing, and those tactics very nearly paid off for a team that proved alert and tough-tackling in defence. As a result, the Czechs frequently found themselves with the ball at their feet, but with no clear idea what to do with it. They finally managed to pick the Thai lock at the death, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (2-1). As for Thailand, while they must be devastated at letting victory slip through their fingers, they will surely have drawn precious lessons for the future from this performance.
Carbo keeps the score down
Wilfredo Carbo lit up this game with his class. Except for a five-minute period when he was totally abandoned by his defence, the Cuban goalkeeper was like a human octopus, stopping an unbelievable 31 attempts on goal from the Albicelestes over the forty minutes. Not that the South Americans were in awesome form, but they fought hard to grind out a 3-0 victory.
The surprise South American champions claimed their victory courtesy of a trio of breakaway goals, finished by their forwards in one-on-ones with the otherwise imperious Carbo, who must surely be feeling somewhat frustrated at his lack of support. Courtesy of the three points, Fernando Larrañaga's protégés can now face the final two group matches from a position of relative comfort, while Cuba need a fine performance against Iran on Wednesday to get their campaign on track.