Matchday 4 preview: Much at stake in second outings
Second round of games in Groups A and B
Hosts in action in Kaunas, which also sees a Latin American derby
RFU and Guatemala seek second wins in Vilnius
Wednesday, 15 September (local time) Group A Costa Rica-Venezuela, Kaunas, 18:00 Lithuania-Kazakhstan, Kaunas, 20:00 Group B Egypt-Guatemala, Vilnius, 18:00 Uzbekistan-RFU, Vilnius, 20:00
By the end of the fourth matchday, there could be four teams with two wins to their name and a clear path to the Round of 16. Hosts Lithuania, who lost their opener 2-1 to Venezuela after conceding a last-minute goal, could face an even tougher task on Wednesday against a Kazakhstan side with considerable attacking prowess. The Kazakhs look an improved side – they beat Costa Rica 6-1 on Sunday, having defeated the same opponent 3-1 in the 2016 edition – thanks in no small part to Dauren Tursagulov, who weighed in with a goal and three assists. But as Lithuania‘s players have pointed out, they have already shown they can compete and now know what the World Cup is all about after their debut in Kaunas.
Also in Kaunas, there will be a Latin American flavour to the meeting between Costa Rica and Venezuela. The latter will be confident after opening with a victory on a day the Vinotinto “will never forget“, according to their Twitter account. Interestingly, when the two sides met at the 2009 Grand Prix de Futsal in Brazil, it was Venezuela who came out 3-2 winners.
Over in Vilnius, RFU will be keen to show that their impressive 9-0 opening win was not a one-off. Curiously, they managed 56 shots despite having less possession than their opponents. This time, however, they will have to be mindful of Uzbekistan, who showed their resilience in their first game, coming from three goals down only to lose in dramatic fashion. A secondary contest could be the chance to establish an early lead in the scoring charts, with RFU’s Ivan Chishkala and Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Ropiev both on three goals. Meanwhile, Egypt will look to open their account and bounce back from their worst Futsal World Cup defeat in 26 matches. Guatemala, by contrast, have their tails up after snatching a dramatic victory in the last minute of a nine-goal thriller against the Uzbeks. It was anything but a goal-fest when the two sides met at Brazil 2008, where Guatemala edged Egypt 1-0. Veteran goalkeeper William Ramirez, who is one of two players from that game still in the Guatemala squad, will know only too well that another win could finally put them into the knockout phase at the fifth time of asking.