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Tough return for Tiki Toa

Heimanu Taiarui in action for Tahiti. Credit: Beach Soccer Worldwide

The Tiki Toa have made their return to the international stage at the Intercontinental Cup in Dubai, but results didn’t quite go as planned for the side which finished second in the past two editions of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

But with the side having undergone a number of changes ahead of this competition, with four starters including goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia, unavailable for selection it was a chance for some new faces to make competitive appearances with Tahiti’s national beach soccer team.

The Tiki Toa’s first encounter was against Russia which their opponents largely dominated to take a 6-1 lead. But the Tahitians aren’t known for giving up and came back strong to equalise 6-6 before being beaten by a lone goal 7-6.

The match marked the debuts of Tamatoa Tetauira, Heirauarii Salem, Gervais Chan Kat and goalkeeper Teva Durot, as well as giving Franck Revel his first start as keeper.

Match two was a lot more difficult for the young squad with Revel having picked up an injury during the final goal scored by the Russians, a much less experienced Durot was put between the posts against an powerful Iran.

The Tiki Toa started well, but Iran soon found a way through their defences to leap to a 3-0 lead. Iran then had their fourth goal before Tearii Labaste profited from a poor clearance to score his side’s first.

With 12 minutes – the final third – remaining, Schirinzi put Naea Bennett, former captain turned coach, into goal for eight minutes before the final four minutes between the posts were played by Raimana Li Fung Kuee. A goal to Teva Zaveroni took the score to 4-2 and a second straight defeat for the Tahitians.

The third match was a tight 7-6 victory over the United Stages, before a big loss to Spain – 9-1. That left the Tahitians playing off for seventh or eighth place, against the UAE. Despite scoring four goals in the final few minutes, they went down 7-6.

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