Tahiti’s opponents for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2021 were unveiled last night at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.
Tiki Toa (the Warrior Gods) have been listed in Group B alongside Mozambique, Spain and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Russia.
They face UAE in the opening match of the tournament at 3.00pm (MSK time) followed by Spain and Mozambique on Saturday and Monday.
Led by head coach Teva Zaveroni, the squad are currently in France before heading to St. Petersburg as part of their preparations.
Zaveroni said it’s an honour to be Oceania’s only representative.
“We’re really looking forward to this experience and fortunate to have this opportunity,” he said.
“As the only country from our region we hope to make our country proud.”
Flying Oceania’s flag, Tahiti have reached two FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finals and a semi-final since 2013.
At regional level the first three OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cups were dominated by the Solomon Islands until Tiki Toa’s breakthrough Oceania title in 2011 at home in Papeete.
Tahiti won 4-3 in a thriller to secure their qualification to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 in Ravenna, Italy in their rapid rise to global fame.
In 2019, they qualified for their fifth World Cup in a row after they won the OFC Beach Nations Cup which returned after a six-year hiatus.
OFC Head of Football Development Paul Toohey said after a year without international competitions, to have a team from Oceania participate is a milestone to be proud of.
“Tiki Toa are an inspirational team, they have a proud record in beach soccer and they will go to Russia with a strong squad and belief,” he said.
“With 16 teams participating it was always going to be a tough draw. Spain are a well-established force on the sand and Mozambique are rising stars.
“The first match against UAE is critical and will go a long way towards determining who can advance from the group stage.”
In other pools, Russia will meet USA while Japan and Paraguay make up the rest of Group A.
Group C sees five-time champions Brazil square off against Switzerland and El Salvador face Belarus while, Portugal, Oman, Senegal and Uruguay play off in Group D.
The 24-team tournament features six pools of four with the top two from each pool advancing to quarter finals before semi-final and Grand Final play-offs.
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup kicks off for its 11th edition at the Luzhniki Beach Soccer Stadium on Thursday, August 19-29.