New Stars Born
While the experienced Brazilian team based their victory on a solid group in which only Buru stood out from the rest, others saw the rise of new stars on which many eyes will focus in the next competition in 2008. Mexico’s Morgan Plata, with four goals in the semi-finals and one in the final, was the second-best goalscorer and also earned the bronze ball, while team-mates Villalobos and goalkeeper Miguel Estrada also shone brightly.
Nevertheless, some veterans also showed they can still perform at the highest level. Portugal’s Madjer, the best player in 2005 and 2006 and who was not on top of his game in the first round. amazed in the quarter-final against Brazil with five outstanding goals, which earned him the silver ball as the second-best player in the tournament. Meanwhile, Uruguay goalkeeper Diego was hailed by the local fans as he took his side to third place with unbelievable saves.
Having reached the climax of this three-year stint on Copacabana, including the happy ending with a local victory, the stage has now been set for beach soccer to explore new horizons when the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup moves from its cradle for the first time, first to Marseilles in 2008 and then to Dubai in 2009.
The Brazilian spirit, with music, samba dancers, passionate fans and a thrilling exhibition of skills, will surely remain in the minds of players and fans alike, as all eagerly await the return of the world’s greatest beach soccer tournament in 2008.