Despite resting the majority of their usual starters, Spain had little difficulty overcoming Chinese Taipei in their second match at the FIFA Futsal World Championship 2004. The result sees the Iberians safely through to the next round, while the hosts have just one lesson left of what is proving an extremely steep learning curve.
"Let's not get carried away. After all, this Spanish side are the reigning world champions," pointed out a tad-disillusioned Damien Knabben, coach of Chinese Taipei, before the game. And forty minutes later, his prognosis had been verified, albeit not quite as conclusively as expected. "There was very little we could do and I feel that, on the whole, we didn't come off too badly. It was important for us not to lose by too great a margin, so I'm satisfied."
In the early minutes of the game, Spain had looked distinctly off colour, committing a string of technical and positional errors. Admittedly, Limones (3') struck a post early on, and Alberto Cogorro did open the scoring on six minutes(1-0), but Javier Lozano looked far from happy. Pitchside, the coach of the world champions cut an animated figure, gesticulating wildly as he called out instructions to his players. As each player left the pitch, he benefited from a face-to-face explanation of precisely where he was going wrong.
Javi Rodriguez for a historic treble
After the second goal by Fran Serrejon (2-0, 13'), normal service was resumed in the Spanish ranks, although they appeared somewhat reluctant to commit men forward. As a result, they had to content themselves with just one more goal before the break (3-0, 17').
Upon returning from the changing rooms, things continued in much the same vein, as the Spaniards took advantage of some schoolboy errors. When a penalty was conceded for handball inside the area, Javi Rodriguez put Spain further in front (4-0, 22'), before adding another shortly after (5-0, 25'). But Chinese Taipei were making a better fist of it than against Egypt (12-0) two days earlier. Even after an interruption caused by a power cut and two more goals scored by Torras (6-0, 35') and Javi Rodriguez (7-0, 30') - his first-ever hat-trick in a FIFA Futsal World Championship match -, Damien Knabben's charges kept on battling and never allowed their heads to drop.
While the record books will show that Spain won by ten goals to nil (Alberto Cogorro 32', Marcelo 37' and Limones 39' rounding off the scoring), Javier Lozano would prefer to look forward to the remainder of the tournament: "We had a few concerns at the beginning of the match as Chinese Taipei were standing up well, but there's a long way to go in the tournament, so we've plenty of time to iron out such difficulties."