Oceania’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup representatives – Tahiti’s Tiki Toa – kick off their campaign in the Bahamas tomorrow, taking on CONMEBOL champions and World No. 3 Brazil in a long-awaited World Cup rematch.
The last time the Tiki Toa and Brazil met in the finals was when Tahiti hosted the competition in 2013. The two sides were inseparable during their third place play-off encounter, tied 7-7 at the end of extra time. Brazil profited from the penalty shootout and claimed third place ahead of the then hosts, who still managed the best finish of any Oceania team in the Beach Soccer World Cup at that time.
The nations met more recently at the 2016 Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup last November, but the CONMEBOL giants completely dominated Tahiti in the last minutes of the match to earn a steep 10-4 victory.
Tiki Toa have shown improvement since that event however, taking out the Copa Pilsener Fútbol Playa 2017 in El Salvador with a clean sweep.
Captain Naea Bennett believes the Tiki Toa are better-prepared for Brazil than they were in their last encounter, and is fully focused on bringing his best performance to the pitch.
“We drew with Brazil over two thirds in Dubai, the difference was definitely the fitness level. We need to be physically ready if we want to complete with them,” he said.
“We’re not afraid of anyone, it’s up to us to do everything necessary to be ready.”
Switzerland national beach soccer team coach Angelo Schirinzi – who coached Tahiti during their 2013 World Cup campaign – has returned to his role with his native Swiss side for their own campaign, but has kept a close relationship with Tahiti and is confident they will be in contention for the title.
“El Salvador is a good team and they beat Panama and Ecuador – two opponents who will also appear at the World Cup – so they are very well prepared,” he said.
“They were down for two months in Bahamas for training and they have big support from the Tahiti Federation. They are very well prepared and anything is possible for them.
“The best case would be to see them in the final and then hopefully Switzerland can get the better result but even if Tahiti win the World Cup, I would be satisfied.”
Tahiti open their 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup campaign against Brazil at Nassau Beach Soccer Stadium at 18h30 on 28 April (12h30 TAHT).