The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011 has been a rollercoaster of emotions for Nigeria. Dejected after their opening defeat against Russia, the Africans bounced back with a 5-3 victory over Venezuela to keep their hopes of a quarter-final place alive. Another win in their final group game against Tahiti on Tuesday would secure the Green Eagles' place in the last eight.
Much of the credit for the Nigerians' revival has to go to Victor Tale. The 21-year-old wing, who is competing at his second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after Dubai 2009, proved decisive against Venezuela, scoring two goals within three minutes to set Nigeria on their way to an eventual 5-3 victory.
"It was a great moment," Tale told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. "It was a very tight game and we came under considerable pressure. Venezuela are an enormously tough opponent but luckily we were able to win the game. I'm incredibly pleased that my two goals contributed to our success."
Tale not only impressed with his double strike, but also with his subsequent celebrations. His spectacular back-flips and somersaults wowed onlookers in the Stadio del Mare and earned him enthusiastic applause. "I love doing acrobatics," he explained. "I've been doing it since I was a kid playing on the beach. I always celebrate like that when I score a goal, no matter what the game is." Asked whether he puts in any special training in order to pull off these moves, he smiled: "No, it's just a natural talent."
As for Nigeria's chances of glory in Ravenna, Tale explained: "I believe in fate. We believe in ourselves and with God's help, hopefully we can progress in the tournament." His ambitions are shared by the many Nigerian fans who have provided loud and colourful support for their team throughout the competition so far.
"It's simply fantastic to have such a huge group of fans here who do such a great job of getting behind us," added Tale as our interview drew to a close. "We're not just playing for ourselves or our country, we're playing for our fans too."