Tahiti ready to shine as history beckons

The second matchday at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013 will be enlivened as host nation Tahiti enter the fray. Following the opening day’s four matches, the remaining nations - including Spain and South American champions Argentina - will make their bow.

Match of the day
TahitiUnited Arab Emirates, Thursday 19 September, Group A, 19:00 local time
Tahiti’s maiden appearance in the tournament will be a historic occasion with this being the first FIFA tournament to be held in a Pacific Islands nation. The Polynesians have enjoyed a thorough and lengthy build-up, and have been buoyed by numerous wins concluding with a 9-2 win over Australia last Friday in a match which officially opened the impressive new To’ata stadium in Papeete. United Arab Emirates, who finished third in Asian qualifying, come into the tournament as somewhat of an unknown quantity although their historical record is solid and the west Asians will be making their fourth appearance at this level.

Other highlights
Spain will open the day’s proceedings against USA with the Europeans seeking to bring their strong continental form over many years to the world stage. USA, for their part, have enjoyed a more modest build-up than many of their counterparts, but they have a strong sense of team unity and are determined to rediscover the kind of high-ranking status they enjoyed in the 1990s.

Argentina tackle El Salvador in the second match of the day with the South Americans, having flattered to deceive in years gone by, aiming for a breakthrough performance after winning their maiden continental crown earlier this year at the expense of perennial challengers Brazil. Somewhat of a rising power El Salvador stunned the world at Ravenna 2011 with a fourth-placed finish and are now aiming to continue that momentum in this their fourth successive tournament.

The matchday will conclude with Netherlands tackling Solomon Islands in an intriguing encounter. The Europeans are one of only two debutants at Tahiti 2013 while it remains to be seen if Solomon Islands’ late qualification – the Oceania tournament was held only two weeks ago – proves beneficial or otherwise.

Player to watch
Now 37 years of age, Tahiti 2013 is set to be a perfect swansong for the evergreen Teva Zaveroni, who seems to have been around the Oceania football scene forever. Tahiti player-coach at Ravenna 2011, Zaveroni of Italian extraction on his father’s side, led the Tiki Toa to their maiden win on the world stage two years ago, having also represented the national team for over a decade including two FIFA World Cup™ campaigns.

The stat
0
- The number of FIFA tournament matches played by a Pacific Islands nation on home soil prior to Thursday.

The words
“Everything about the team is in tune. When you’re on the same page together and trust each other, everything comes together and you can win championships.” USA’s Ryan Futagaki

The schedule
Spain v USA (16:00, Group A)
Argentina v El Salvador (17:30, Group B)
Tahiti v United Arab Emirates (19:00, Group A)
Netherlands v Solomon Islands (20:30, Group B)