Tiki Toa kick off their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2021 campaign today in Moscow, Russia.
The Tahitian side will play in the opening match of the tournament at 3.00pm (MSK time)/12.00am (NZT) against United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed by Spain and Mozambique on Saturday and Monday.
The 16-team tournament will run from August 19 to 29 and features four pools of four with the top two from each pool advancing to quarter finals.
Tiki Toa Head Coach Teva Zaveroni said to win their first match is crucial.
“Our main objective is of course to go as far as we can and win the World Cup, but our first goal is to win against UAE,” he said.
“We need a good start to the competition for our team to feel confident heading into the following games.”
As part of Tiki Toa’s preparations, the squad travelled to Paris, France before relocating to St. Petersburg the past six weeks.
Zaveroni said it was a decision they needed to make to prepare them in the best way possible.
“For us it was quite difficult to train in Tahiti because we don’t have the infrastructure and all our players were working at their jobs, we needed to focus,” Zaveroni said.
“Six weeks away was helpful for different matters, for example the sand is different in Russia compared to ours at home. It was interesting to climatise our players to something like local sand.
“We also have four players on debut for Tiki Toa, so it was important for both our physical and tactical trainings as a team.
“One thing we’ve focussed on is treating each other with respect as you would to your families.
“The most important thing for me is to play my part in this family and contribute as much as I can with my experiences. I’m not looking for any special consideration, but I’ve been working hard the past month and I’m ready.”
Tiki Toa captain Raimana Li Fung Kuee reinforced the importance of family values.
“Unity is our secret power for this competition,” he said.
“We understand that as soon as we step on the sand, we’ve committed to sacrificing ourselves for each other, these boys are my brothers and that’s what family do.
“We are very proud to represent Oceania in this World Cup and personally I will do my best for Tahiti.”