The most ambitious teams in Groups C and D face tricky starts to their FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016 campaigns. Paraguay lock horns with Italy, who have a strong recent record in this competition, while reigning champions Brazil attempt to live up to their label of favourites against a solid Ukraine side. Elsewhere on Sunday, tournament newcomers Mozambique and Vietnam will set out to prove that they are not in South America to make up the numbers.
FIFA.com previews an exciting-looking second day of action at Colombia 2016.
Match of the day
Ukraine-Brazil, 18:00 (local time) ** **Ukraine’s players are faced with an age-old problem ahead of their clash with Brazil: can they convince themselves that a win over the tournament’s big guns is possible? There may never be a better time to do it, as the fast-improving UEFA representatives are on fine form, look strong all over the court, and appear to have their tactics down to a tee. The Yellow-Blues comfortably negotiated their way through the European qualifying campaign, having already exceeded expectations at the last two Futsal World Cups.
On the other side of the pitch awaits a team very much accustomed to ignoring pressure and rising to the occasion. Whether impressing with their remarkable teamwork or allowing their individual talents to shine, the South Americans are experts at creating chances out of nothing and adapting their game to any level of opposition.
Whatever the eventual outcome, fans in Bucaramanga are sure to be treated to a high-calibre duel, the winners of which will put themselves in an excellent early position in Group D.
The other matches
Australia and Mozambique, the two underdogs in Group D, cross swords in what is likely to be a closely contested affair between two teams dreaming of extending their adventure in Colombia a little longer. The Futsalroos have appeared at several World Cups, but wins have been thin on the ground, while the Africans, making their first appearance at this level, arrive in confident mood.
In Group C, meanwhile, the Guatemalans will be keen to make up for their disappointing and unfortunate group-stage exit at Thailand 2012 by reaching at least the Round of 16. They can take a firm step towards that goal by disposing of Vietnam, who will be making their World Cup debut on Sunday.
There have been three previous Paraguay-Italy clashes at the Futsal World Cup, and each one has delivered tension and suspense right up to the final whistle. Both sides arrive at Colombia 2016 with lofty aims, and a good performance in their opening Group C fixture will set them on their way to achieving them.
Player to watch
The high-profile Brazilian forward has already won all there is to win in the game, but his thirst for success appears to be unquenchable. Against Ukraine in Bucaramanga, Falcao is likely to set a new record for the number of Futsal World Cup participations (five), and draw nearer to two other tournament benchmarks, namely the highest number of World Cup appearances (he is currently two short of the record) and the highest number of goals scored (he is five behind the leader in the all-time list).
*1 – *Australia’s first-ever victory at the Futsal World Cup came against Zimbabwe in 1989. They will be hoping to draw inspiration from that 4-1 win as they prepare to face African opposition once again in the shape of tournament rookies Mozambique.
“We obviously hope we can get a result, but we don’t want to be too defensive. We’ll have to fight for it,” Ukraine defender Mykhailo Grytsyna.
Vietnam-Guatemala (18:00), Cali
Paraguay-Italy (20:00), Cali
*Mozambique-Australia (16:00), Bucaramanga
Ukraine-Brazil (18:00) Bucaramanga
(All times local)