Japan aiming for place in quarters
The second day at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 will be decisive for a number of teams. While most of the top sides (Brazil, Portugal, France) are taking a day off, Spain will make their debut and Thailand, Japan, South Africa and Australia will be fighting to stay in the competition.
Group A: Spain - Thailand (4pm, local time)
Final qualifiers Spain face a Thailand side still reeling from their 9-2 demolition at the hands of Brazil. Amarelle will be the Furia's main threat. The striker twice hit four goals in the qualifiers, and will expect to add to his goal tally against the Asians.
The Thais will not go down without a fight though, as coach Marcelo Silveira Mendes told us: "We have more chance of beating Spain than Brazil. I think the European style suits us better. I promise you a great game in any case." Unless the Spanish forget, Thailand beat them 4-3 at the 2002 World Championship.
Not playing: Brazil
Group B : USA - Japan (5.15pm)
The winners of this clash should take a spot in the last eight to leave the losers contemplating an early exit. Outclassed by Portugal (0-4) yesterday, Japan are in a must-win situation. "We are lacking in experience, but when I see how we played against Portugal, I reckon we can beat the United States. A lot will depend on how we deal with our fatigue," commented Japan coach Ramos Rui.
The Americans, in contrast, will be full of running in their opening match. Looking like American footballers in training on Copacabana beach, Brazilian coach Roberto Ceciliano's side will hope to make their physical presence felt. The contrast in style and physique should make for an intriguing encounter.
Not playing : Portugal
Group D: Argentina - Australia (6.30pm)
Australia will put their opening game defeat (1-5) to Eric Cantona's French side down to experience and hope to do a lot better against Argentina. Coach Adrian Santrac says: "We learnt a great deal from our first match against France. But we'll try to be shrewder in our second game".
Argentina will want to make a decent start in a competition where many pundits fancy their chances. Keeper Marcelo Salgueiro and sharp-shooting striker Ezequiel López Hilaire stand out as possible match winners.
Not playing: France
Group C: Ukraine - South Africa (7.45pm)
Despite being outsmarted by a more experienced Uruguayan outfit (3-7), the Bafana Bafana gave a good account of themselves in their opening game at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005. Shezi Lindani's side impressed with their speed and industry and will be looking to cause an upset against the relatively unknown Ukrainians.
Victor Moroz's Ukrainian side have not been in international competition since their magnificent third-place finish at the European Championship. So what better setting than Copacabana Beach to show the world their considerable talents? Just like Shevchenko and co., who have practically qualified for Germany 2006, the Ukrainian beach soccer team are looking to put themselves on the map.
Not playing: Uruguay