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Beach Soccer – From Pele To Ronaldinho

Beach soccer players need the same skills as those who play conventional football, but because beach soccer is played on sand, they also have to be particularly fit. The best beach soccer players also have excellent pace, endurance and ball control. “Ninety per cent of beach soccer players would do well on a normal football pitch, but only ten per cent of footballers can play beach soccer to a high level. Beach soccer helps footballers improve their technique. Many Brazilian stars, like Pele and Ronaldinho for example, played beach soccer when they were growing up,” said Brazil’s Romario, a man who played in World Cups on both surfaces. “2005 was an unforgettable experience for me. Beach soccer is a fascinating and very attractive sport for spectators and players alike. I am looking forward to a thrilling tournament played out against a stunning backdrop.”
One of the main attractions on the world-famous Copacabana will surely be the Russians. After winning the Athens qualifying event, Nikolay Pisareveine’s charges enjoyed an impressive season in the European league and they are certainly worthy of their place in Rio de Janeiro. With a defence built around a solid goalkeeper in the shape of Andrey Bukhlitskiy- the best keeper in last year’s European league — Russia are certainly capable of taking on the best the World Cup has to offer. Russia will open their World Cup campaign against Mexico on 2 November before tackling the Solomon Islands, the surprise packages of 2006. All eyes, however, will be on the Russians’ showdown with world champions Brazil in their final group match. One thing is for sure – if Russia play as well as they did in the Europeanleague, they will give the Brazilian hosts a run for their money.
“Not so long ago, beach soccer was all about Brazil, Portugal, Spain and ourselves. In the last two years, however, we have seen incredible technical development. That is great for our sport, but it has also created a lot more competition,” said beach soccer pioneer Eric Cantona, France’s current coach.
World champions in 2005 and third-place finishers in 2006, Les Bleus would love to go into next year’s World Cup on home sand in Marseilles as the reigning world champions, but they know that strong opposition lies in wait in Group D. “Argentina are a very tough team to play against. I know less about Nigeria, but I do know that they only narrowly missed out on the semi-finals last time. The UAE also have an excellent team, as I recently found out in Dubai. We want to win, of course, but first of all we have to play to our potential,” continued Cantona. “In 2005, we won the first official Beach Soccer World Cup to be organised by FIFA and we will also be the first to hold this tournament outside of Brazil, so we will have to come up with something special – like trying to win the World Cup again, for example!”