On the first day of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005, the favourites should open their campaigns with comfortable wins. That is the theory at least, for when the sand starts flying on Copacabana Beach Sunday, the outsiders will be out to make names for themselves on the sport's greatest stage.
Group D: Carefree Bafana Bafana (9am, local time)
With an average age of just 18, South Africa have had the happy-go-lucky air of youth over the past few days in Rio de Janeiro. Their training sessions have been full of fun, rather than composed tactical walkthroughs. They also made their dancing and singing presence felt in the stands during the European qualifiers.
Quite whether they will be so cheerful after their opener against Uruguay is open to question. The Bafana Bafana have come to Brazil to gain experience, and they may well learn the hard way from a very experienced Uruguay side. The South Americans will be out to win, and win well, before taking on Ukraine in what will probably prove a decisive encounter.
Group C: Historic first for Australia (10.15am)
The men from Down Under will be disputing their very first official beach soccer match against France. The Aussies would no doubt have preferred an easier baptism; Adrian Santrac is under no illusions as to the task facing his novice side: "We're in a really tough group. Everyone knows France and Argentina are far better than us. We haven't had much time to prepare but we will try to do our best. We're here to learn."
The same cannot be said of Eric Cantona's Bleus. Some observers' outside bet for the title, France are at the very least expected to reach the quarter-finals. A win over the untested Australians should be a formality.
Group A: Champions to the fore (11.30am)
This is what the locals have been waiting for; nine-time champions Brazil taking to the home sand to defend their world title. At times breathtaking in training over the past few days, the Auriverde will be looking to stamp their class on the competition against unfancied Thailand.
The Thais are not without hope however. Fourth at the World Championship in 2002, where they beat France (5-4) and Spain (4-3), the South-East Asians will be hoping for more of the same here. Drawn in a tough group alongside the hosts and Spain, Marcelo Mendes team will need to be firing on all cylinders if they are to progress beyond the group stage.
Groupe B: Portugal look to lay down a marker (12.45am)
Portugal have finished in the top three on no less than five occasions in the last six World Championships. Capable of producing spectacular, Brazilian-style beach soccer, the Portuguese will once again expect to make the semi-finals at the least.
Japan are the Lusitanians' first opponents. Pioneers of the burgeoning sport in Asia, the Japanese are coached by a former star professional in the naturalised Brazilian Ramos Rui. Qualification for the next round, if it is to be achieved, will probably come via a win over the USA in their second game, so Japan have nothing to lose against group favourites Portugal.