Quarter-final race goes down to the wire
Matchday 5 at Russia 2021
Group A: Who will join Japan in the quarter-finals?
Group B: All to play for
The moment of truth has arrived in groups A and B at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™, with Japan the only team of the eight to have secured a place in the quarter-finals.
The Japanese lead the way in Group A ahead of their last match in the section, against the tournament hosts, who lie three points behind them and three points ahead of USA and Paraguay, who face off in the other game. RFU remain favourites to advance to the last eight but that could change if USA or Paraguay win their match in normal time.
The picture is even more unclear in Group B, where a single point separates the four sides. Any kind of win for any of the top three will take them through, while bottom-placed United Arab Emirates must win without going to penalties to advance.
The games (all times local)
Did you know?
Hosts hoping to stay alive RFU are the only one of the eight teams to have played extra time in both their first two games. Though they won the two of them, they have only three points to their name (teams score three points for a win in normal time, two for a win in extra time, and one for a shootout win), which could come back to haunt them. To continue their adventure on home sand, however, all they need from their final outing against group leaders Japan is an extra-time win.
Beginner’s luck Fresh from their maiden Beach Soccer World Cup win, Mozambique are out to make history by qualifying for the quarter-finals, a goal they can achieve if they beat Tahiti. The Mambas will be banking on their new star, Figo, the leading scorer at Russia 2021 with seven goals to his name so far.
Happy Spanish memories for UAE The last time Spain took on United Arab Emirates in the group phase of the Beach Soccer World Cup was at Tahiti 2013. The winners of the European qualifying competition just a few weeks earlier, La Roja went down 5-2 before bouncing back to reach the final. Having also won this year’s European qualifiers, will Spain suffer the same fate against UAE this time?
Déjà vu for USA and Paraguay USA and Paraguay crossed paths at Paraguay 2019 at exactly the same stage of the competition, when they also had no points to their names. The South Americans won 5-1 on that occasion, though it was not enough to take them through to the last eight. Can either of them progress this time?
“It’s always exciting to play the host nation in front of their own fans. We’re feeling relaxed ahead of the match because we’re already through, but we’ve got revenge on our minds too because they beat us in 2013 and took first place in the group from us. We won’t be letting them do that to us here.” Japan player Takaaki Oba