France fantastic, Spain on song
THE DAY REPLAYED - Their stuttering start to the season and flirtations with disaster on the road to Rio de Janeiro 2006 now look to have been aberrations after France laid waste their latest opponents. Eric Cantona's men will not give up their world title easily and, judging by their current form, it will take a monumental effort to bring them down.
If anyone can do it, then perhaps its hosts Brazil, who posted
their second impressive win today, this time over Japan. The
Auriverde appear in a league above most of their fellow
hopefuls, but are still not assured of qualifying from what is a
very open Group A. Like Spain in Group B, though, one last win
would see them through to the knockout stages, whereas for the USA,
Japan and Poland the various permutations will require a
France 8-1 Canada: Cantona's men at a canter
"Judging by the score, this win might look easy to you, but we made it easy for ourselves," announced a typically composed Eric Cantona after his charges' latest success. "Canada are a really good side, but we were prepared to take this game very seriously. By keeping our concentration, we avoided falling into the trap." The Frenchman is not one for getting carried away, but there is no denying that the champions won in some style to earn their place in the quarter-finals as section-winners. More significantly, they did so without breaking sweat, which ought to spread fear into the rest of the field. For the Canadians, on the other hand, their last match against Spain will be decisive.
Brazil 10-2 Japan:
The question everyone is asking at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2006 is: 'can anyone beat Brazil?' Last year, the Auriverde tended to take their foot off the pedal after going in front, but the current line-up have a frightening efficiency about them. Every shot is likely to cause problems, no matter what the distance, and although the fans are still clamouring for Jorginho to be included, they can console themselves with the performance of lanky newcomer Bruno (three goals). Alexandre Soares' men must now see off the USA to guarantee themselves a quarter-final berth.
Poland 2-4 USA: The US too strong
The deft touches that come naturally to a team like Brazil may have been missing, but this match went a long way to proving beach soccer can be a physically-intense discipline. With both sides looking for maximum points after succumbing to defeat in their opening games, this was a hard-fought tie with aggressive challenges all over the pitch. Ultimately, the North Americans emerged as the strongest to swing the result in their favour, leaving the lacklustre Poles thankful that the situation in Group A still offers them a slender chance of going through. Should they beat Japan by a large margin, Jacek Ziober's players could yet pull off a great escape.
Iran 1-6 Spain :
La Seleccion win through
Despite some encouraging moments in their first two outings, the Melli will be leaving the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup early after coming up against a clinical Spain team. Indeed, Amarelle and Co may still be looking for top gear in Rio, but they were able to score when it mattered and simply need to overcome Canada to book their place in the next round. "That last group game will be like a Round of 16 match for us," explained the Iberians' star striker. As for the Iranians, their attention may wander when they take on the French in their farewell fixture.