Matchday 3 preview: Argentina and Spain ready for the off
Defending champions Argentina begin their campaign against USA
Two-time winners Spain face a formidable Paraguay side
IR Iran, third in 2016, open up against Serbia
Tuesday, 14 September (local time) Group E Paraguay-Spain, Klaipeda, 18:00 Angola-Japan, Klaipeda, 20: 00 Group F Serbia-IR Iran, Vilnius, 18:00 Argentina-USA, Vilnius, 20:00
Argentina broke the Brazil-Spain duopoly by conquering the competition in 2016. La Albiceleste proved it was no flash in the pan by beating A Seleção 3-1 in the final of the CONMENOL qualifiers for Lithuania. Success, however, comes with pressure, and Nicolas Sarmiento, Damian Stazzone and Leandro Cuzzolino must now deal with the burden of being among the favourites.
Spain’s record run of five consecutive Futsal World Cup finals came to an end in a quarter-final loss to Russia in Colombia, but they enter the tournament among the big favourites. Experience, class and a winning mentality abounds within Federico Vidal’s squad, but Ortiz, Solano and Borja face an examination from a side vowing to compete for the trophy. “If I had to name a favourite, it would be Paraguay,” goalkeeper Carlos Espinola declared to FIFA.com. Ahmad Esmaeilpour and Ali Hassanzadeh inspired IR Iran to bronze in 2016, and the 33-year-olds believe they can do even better in Lithuania. Serbia will provide a stern test in their curtain-raiser.
Algeria, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Mozambique all lost on their first appearance in the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ debut. Angola nevertheless believe they can become the first African side to win their debut. “There are no words for what it means to our people to be at a World Cup,” No10 Manosele told FIFA.com. “We want to make them even prouder by giving a good account of ourselves.”