The opening week of FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 saw 15 of the world's top teams join the hosts in tense competition for eight spots in the next round. The 24 group matches, averaging 6.38 goals each, narrowly lower than the all-time record, presented global fans with scintillating performances and new records.
1 Emerging Asians: Despite the Asian teams all bowing out of the tournament after the first group stage and much-fancied Iran failing to improve on their historic achievements of reaching the semi-final at Hong Kong 1992, they still have a measure of success to celebrate. Hosts Chinese Taipei scored two goals in their FIFA Futsal World Championship debut and Thailand scored their first victory, while Japan grabbed their first point ever in six matches in the world's showpiece futsal event.
2 Newcomers: Chinese Taipei join a long list of newcomers who showed their relative inexperience and failed to win a single point on their debut (Japan, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia at Netherlands 1989; Nigeria and China PR at Hong Kong 1992; Malaysia and Cuba at Spain 1996; Kazakhstan and Thailand at Guatemala 2000).
3 A match to mark the 200th game: In the year of FIFA Centennial, the final of Chinese Taipei 2004 will be the 200th game in the history of the FIFA Futsal World Championship, with the five editions since 1989 each holding 40 matches.
4 European success: South Americans, arguably the inventors of the smaller football, dominated this FIFA tournament with Brazil winning the first three titles. They haven't had it all their own way though, as this is the fourth time one of the second round groups has been an all European affair (1989, 1996, 2000).
5 Impressive debut: The Czech Republic have emulated the feats of Portugal, who won two group matches on their debut in 2000 (and went on to qualify for the semi-finals), and Croatia, who also recorded two wins at the group stage of the same tournament.
6 The odd goal maestros: Argentina are the masters of a tight victory. Of their total of 12 wins so far, seven were decided a single-goal margin.
7 Leading all-time scorers: 33-year-old Manoel Tobias, who has scored in four FIFA Futsal World Championships so far, is the tournament's leading all-time scorer with 42 goals (8, 1992; 14, 1996; 19, 2000; 1, 2004). His team-mate Fininho became the first player to score in four FIFA Futsal WCs (1992-2004) when he scored in Brazil's opener against Australia.
8 One better: Spain's 10-0 victory over hosts Chinese Taipei was their biggest FIFA Futsal World Championship win ever, beating their 9-0 win over Cuba four years ago.
9 Comeback kings: Ukraine's narrow win over Egypt is not the first time the team has come back after trailing strong opponents. In 1996 against the Netherlands, they came back to square the match after being two goals down with 15 minutes played. In the second half they were twice behind but each time they equalised to draw the match 4-4.
10 Dream start: Three straight wins sent Italy into last eight as group winners. This is the first time they have won all their first group matches.