After Germany's triumph at the UEFA European U-19 Championship a few months back, they were immediately tipped as one of the favourites for Egypt 2009. However, after a full squad's worth of players were withdrawn from contention, the German dream of a first U-20 world crown in almost 30 years appeared a remote possibility.
In the wake of the first matchday, opinions have been revised yet again. Germany stormed to a 3-0 victory over the USA, a side rated as serious contenders for the trophy, largely thanks to a slick and solid team performance.
"It was a crucial win," admitted Semih Aydilek, who capped an eye-catching display with a coolly-converted penalty. "I'm obviously delighted if I've contributed to a good result for the team. I'm happy with my performance and hope I can keep it up. Regardless of the Americans' quality, we're the ones who are here representing Germany, and we've done the best job we can."
'All for one and one for all' is a fair description of the approach adopted by the German squad. "We don't even think about who counts as a first-teamer and who doesn't," said Ayldilek. "We went out there as a team, we played as a team, and we won." Collective effort could well be the key factor in upcoming group fixtures against Korea Republic and Cameroon.
Richard Sukuta-Pasu took a similar view when he spoke to FIFA.com, exalting the team over any single individual. "None of us is expected to take on more responsibility than anyone else. We're a team unit and we all contribute towards that. If we stand together, we can achieve a lot," insisted one of the players who might have been regarded as a stand-out in the squad, due to his Bundesliga experience with Bayer Leverkusen, and in Germany colours at the FIFA U-17 World Cup two years ago.
"The positive tension beforehand reminded me of two years ago in Korea. We were fired up back then too. We drew 3-3 (with Columbia, Sukuta-Pasu scoring a goal), but we've won 3-0 here. So three goals for us is bit that's stayed the same," he recalled with a grin.
The player nicknamed 'Richy' was a constant thorn in the USA's side, rating as one of the best performers on the day. However, despite a number of openings, he failed to add his name to the scoresheet. "I had terrific support from the team. It's a shame I couldn't score, but winning was the main thing."
The opening day success means the Germans are firmly on course to hit their initial target: a place in the last 16. Victory over the Koreans would all but seal their berth in the knockout stages. "But we're taking each game as it comes," coach Horst Hrubesch insisted, aware of the challenge posed by the two remaining group fixtures.
"You always give it everything when you're playing for Germany," added Sukuta-Pasu, whose parents came to Europe from Congo. "You're really motivated when you're representing the nation."
With the focus so firmly fixed on the team's success, it is hardly a surprise to find the players making precious little use of the hotel's enticing leisure facilities. "Up to now, we've not really seen anything much except loads of sand," the striker revealed with the broadest of grins: "I know nothing at all about what's on offer here. I'll have to go and find out. But we're doing everything we can not to waste energy, so we have as much as possible left over for the games."
If the 20-year-old manages to open his scoring account in the next two matches, a day off to enjoy the ample leisure pursuits on offer would surely come closer to reality. The young man's attitude certainly cannot be faulted: "Once I've set myself a target, I do everything in my power to achieve it."
And Richy's next target is easily summed up in a single word: goals!