Last eight or early exit beckons
Matchday 2 in Groups A and B at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011 could bring confirmation of the first quarter-finalists, but only among the teams who won on the first day. By contrast, the losers from the opening round of matches already have their backs against the wall.
Both teams opened with wins. Argentina initially fell behind to Oman, but upped their game in the second and third periods to register an ultimately comfortable three points. Portugal underlined their trophy credentials with an emphatic demolition of underdogs El Salvador. The winner of this second-day clash will be safely through to the quarter-finals, so both teams are guaranteed to go all-out for victory. In the light of Portugal's goal–laden start to the tournament, the Argentinian defence is likely to endure a busy afternoon.
Oman meet El Salvador in the second of the Group B fixtures, and both are under extreme pressure to deliver, as realistically speaking only the winners will maintain any hopes of making the last eight. Whatever happens, the match has a historic character, as it will produce a maiden FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup victory either for the newcomers from Asia, or for the Central Americans, who have lost all seven of their previous games at the tournament.
In Group A, the second match is between the teams who recorded narrow wins in their opening games. Hosts Italy beat Iran, and Senegal overcame Switzerland, although both required penalties to finish the job. With the home crowd firmly behind them, Gli Azzurri will be determined to continue their march on the quarter-finals, although the Africans enjoyed boisterous support from their colourful fans on Matchday 1. Once again, there should be a tremendous atmosphere at Stadio del Mare.
The day's programme opens with the other Group A fixture, in which Iran and Switzerland do battle in the full knowledge that another defeat could extinguish the dream of a place in the last eight. The Swiss may just have the psychological edge after reeling in Senegal's four-goal lead to seal a normal time draw in their first match, whereas the Iranians tossed away the lead against the hosts on several occasions. The team with the stronger nerves may yet shade what seems certain to be a close encounter.
Player to watch
Regular Iran keeper Hamed Ghorbanpour received his marching orders in his team's opening match, so his deputy Mohammad Rahaviezabadi has a potentially pivotal role against Switzerland. If the number two shot-stopper can work his magic against potent Swiss striker Dejan Stankovic, he and his team will surely have a far greater chance of victory.
2 – Italy have taken on African opponents twice at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in the past, losing on both occasions. La squadra azzurra fell to Nigeria in 2006 and lost to Senegal on penalties in 2007.
"I have to concede that nerves played a fairly large role in our first match. Most of our players are appearing at the Beach Soccer World Cup for the first time, so it took a while before we picked up our rhythm. And we've not played competitively for a month, so we were a little short of match practice. But I'm certain it’ll all be very different in second match. I hope we recover the precision we showed in qualifying for the tournament," Argentina keeper Cesar Mendoza.