The group stage is over and now it is all or nothing as we enter the knockout rounds of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. Whoever wants to avoid packing their suitcases and heading for home has one task: win at all costs. FIFA.com previews day one of the Round of 16 action, when the hosts themselves will face a fight to stay in the tournament.
Match of the day
Colombia-Paraguay (20:00, Cali)
Contrary to the expectations of many, the host nation did not make things easy for themselves in the group stages. Draws against Portugal and Uzbekistan were followed by a narrow win against Panama that sealed qualification, but life does not get any easier for Colombia. Paraguay will represent a stern test, although the home side may now be able to play with the shackles off having achieved their minimum objective of progressing from their group.
Paraguay were more impressive than Los Cafeteros in the first phase of the competition, playing some good football and looking difficult to penetrate. In their final group game, the Albirroja brushed off falling two goals behind early on to beat Guatemala, but their character will be severely tested here. They are up against not only Colombia coach Arney Fonnegra’s 14-man squad, but also the entire Coliseo el Pueblo in Cali. But without captain Angellot Caro and Jorge Abril, the hosts are certainly a weaker beast. The partisan home crowd have supported their team tremendously so far and have been an important factor in those closely fought matches.
The other match
A few hours beforehand, Russia will take on Vietnam in the Round of 16 opener. The Russians have looked a strong and compact unit thus far, and it was only in their first game against Thailand that they stumbled somewhat, throwing away a three-goal lead within minutes of the restart. Their experience helped them eek out the victory nonetheless, however. Vietnam, by contrast, are appearing at the Futsal World Cup for the first time and have no previous experience to fall back on. They are physically smaller and more agile than their Russian counterparts, although in technical terms there is not much to choose between the sides.
Player to watch
Carlos Nanez (COL)
With 17 goals scored, Paraguay have the third-best attack in the competition behind Brazil and Russia. The hosts are some way short of that number, having scored just eight, and it is actually at the back where they may have the most work to do. Goalkeeper Carlos Nanez could be in for a busy evening, but thankfully for the hosts, he is a man in form. Colombia have conceded just seven times in the tournament so far and Nanez was especially impressive against Portugal, when he made a string of top saves to leave Ricardinho and Co. at their wits’ end.
4 – Russia have struck the woodwork four times so far; only Brazil, Iran and Italy (all five) have had more bad luck. This may also explain why Russia’s Eder Lima has netted just two goals at the tournament. Four years ago in Thailand he scored nine times to end as the competition’s top scorer and win the adidas Golden Boot award.
“We know Colombia are technically very strong and we’ve watched their games on TV. It’s not just Caro and Abril that we need to keep an eye on, it’s their whole team, and they also have the crowd behind them. We’ll have to put in a perfect performance to get through to the next round.” Paraguay coach Carlos Chilavert
Tuesday 20 September
Russia-Vietnam (17:30, Medellin)
Colombia-Paraguay (20:00, Cali)