Although reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 is an achievement in itself, the final four teams are now setting their sights on even higher targets. A win at this stage guarantees a place on the podium and puts title dreams within reach. After a long and strenuous tournament, the remaining sides must summon all their remaining strength if they are to take these final steps. FIFA.com looks ahead to the first semi-final.
Match of the day
Iran-Russia, Coliseo Ivan de Bedout, Medellin, 19:00 (local time)
This match could be every bit as entertaining as the final, as it pits the Asian champions against the European runners-up. Both teams have overcome significant obstacles to reach the last four. Iran defeated tournament favourites and five-time world champions Brazil in the Round of 16. Despite falling behind three times, twice by two goals, Team Melli managed to take the encounter to extra time and penalties, where they held their nerve to defeat the South Americans. They had a similar experience in the quarter-finals, where Paraguay led twice before Iran recovered to secure the win in extra time.
In contrast, Russia had to ensure they did not rest on their laurels after taking the lead. Despite giving away a three-goal advantage within a few minutes after half-time in their opening match against Thailand, the Eastern Europeans ultimately prevailed before negotiating their other games with relative ease. Having secured a long-awaited victory over perennial adversaries Spain in the last round after losing to the Iberians at both the last Futsal World Cup and February’s Futsal EURO, Russia are becoming increasingly confident of winning their first world title.
Player to watch
Eder Lima (Russia)
Eder Lima initially struggled for form in Colombia, four years after becoming top goalscorer in Thailand with nine strikes to his name. Nevertheless, the 32-year-old appears to be getting back to his lethal best as the competition enters its final stages, scoring twice against Spain to bring his tournament tally to six goals. Iran will need to get to grips with him if they want to survive against Russia.
10 – While Iran have collected ten yellow cards in the tournament so far, more than any other team, only Farhad Tavakoli will miss the semi-final due to suspension. Luckily for the Asian side, all cards are disregarded after the quarter-finals, which means no player already carrying a booking will play in the last four fearing that another warning will deny them the chance to play in the final. Despite Russia boasting a more reasonable total of six yellow cards in the tournament so far, their player Romulo will sit out the semi-final after seeing red in their last match.
"We’ve already contested plenty of friendlies against Russia, so we know how we have to play against them. To win, we’ll need to stay calm right to the final whistle and stick to our gameplan."
Iran coach Seyed Nazemalsharieh
Semi-final, Tuesday 27 September 2016
Iran-Russia (19:00, Medellin)
Semi-final, Wednesday 28 September 2016
Argentina-Portugal (19:00, Cali)
(All times local)