Last eight in sight on Copacabana
Tuesday 7 November, the sixth and last day of the group stage of this FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2006, will reveal the remaining qualifiers for the quarter-finals. Before getting at least 24 hours of well-deserved rest, Spain, Canada, Japan and Poland will be playing for high stakes.
In Group A, Brazil should rubber-stamp their ticket with a win over the United States, but where second place is concerned, the situation is extremely tight, with only the Japanese sure of a place in the next round if they beat Poland. In Group B, Spain and Canada go head-to-head, with victory for either side assuring qualification.
Group B: France - Iran ( 09:40 )
This non-decisive encounter will be all about having fun. Already through to the quarter-finals and sure of finishing top of Group B, the French will nonetheless be determined to finish the first round unbeaten. Eric Cantona may also use the game to give his substitutes some playing time. While they would love to go out on a high, the Iranians are well aware of the gulf in class between themselves and the reigning world champions. "We don't have the slightest chance of winning. Let's just try and give the best possible account of ourselves," said coach Farshad Falahatzadeh.
Group A: Brazil - USA ( 11:00 )
Although the Brazilians have not yet officially qualified, this slight question mark should very soon be eradicated. Against an American side that is spirited and physical but nonetheless technically inferior, the hosts should make their superiority count on the day. Indeed, the USA's coach is not harbouring any illusions: "Even if we play our very best, we're a long way short of the Seleçao's level. It's always an honour to play them, but I just hope we don't concede too many goals." Especially as a narrow defeat combined with a big win for Poland could yet see the US make the quarter-finals.
Group B: Spain - Canada ( 12:20 )
The permutations linked to this match could scarcely be simpler. With France already qualified and Iran eliminated, the winner of this clash will clinch the runner-up spot in Group B and book a place in the quarter-finals, barring an enormous surprise in the Brazil game. In view of their past record in beach soccer, their status as European champions and a fine performance against Iran (6-1), Spain seem the clear favourites. However, Canada's coach Rosario Ongaro does not see it that way and is predicting a close encounter: "We're playing better and better, and if we can rediscover our form from the qualifiers, I know we can beat the Spaniards."
Group A: Poland - Japan ( 13:40 )
The outcome of the final game of the day could well have everyone reaching for their pocket calculators. Several different scenarios are possible, one of which is straightforward enough: any kind of win for Japan would send them into the quarter-finals. However, if Poland win, things start to get a little complicated. If, a few hours earlier, Brazil beat the United States as expected, three sides would then be on three points and the final place will go to the team with the best record against the other two.