Though he had just seen his side go down to Russia in the final of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013, Spain coach Joaquin Alonso was feeling anything but downhearted.
A very interested spectator at the closing ceremony, Alonso found time to have a quiet word with each and every one of his defeated players, and even broke off for a brief interview with FIFA.com, in which he took stock of Spain’s historic run at Tahiti 2013.
FIFA.com: What was your view of the final?
Alonso: It’s left us feeling a little bit flat. We started well enough and things were pretty even in the first period, which ended goalless. But they scored from a rebound at the start of the second and the game got away from us very quickly after that. We got it back to 3-1 and Antonio had a couple of chances to make it 3-2, but they went and scored a fourth and that killed us.
How do you explain that second period?
Russia are a very strong side and they don’t let you off the hook very often. The same thing happened to us with them recently. We were 1-0 up on that occasion but switched off for a couple of minutes and suddenly found ourselves 3-1 down, with the feeling that it was game over. Whenever they take the lead they really know how to control matches.
If you’d have said to me before we came that we’d reach the final, I’d have taken it. We should be happy with what we’ve achieved.
What’s the difference between you and Russia at the moment?
They’re professionals at this. I’m not saying that we’re not but we’ve got a few players who devote time to other things, and that tells in the long run. We have a job organising training sessions over an extended period of time and they play more competitions. That doesn’t mean to say, though, that we can’t compete with the rest. I’m delighted with the performance of my players.
So, this has been a positive experience then?
A very positive experience. If you’d have said to me before we came that we’d reach the final, I’d have taken it. We should be happy with what we’ve achieved.
Is that what you said to your players after the final?
Absolutely. I told them to enjoy the moment because I’ve played in and lost finals, and to lose them you have to get there first. In a few years’ time it’ll sink in that they came this far, that they fought it out for the title, that they earned the right to fight for it and played their part in the story.
Is it too early yet to think about getting revenge?
It’s not even crossed our minds. Right now I just want to enjoy this. We spent a long time preparing and we’ve been together training for a whole month, which takes it out of you. We need to sit back now and reflect on what we’ve achieved.
What does the future hold for the team?
The older players have shown everything: pride, self-sacrifice and class, and they’ve held nothing back. To my mind they’ve got a good few years left with us yet. They’re also an example to the younger players, who’ve not finished maturing yet. Some of them paid for their lack of experience and they could maybe have been a bit more influential, but they’re the future of the team and that future is a promising one. We’re happy with how the team’s progressing and we’ve got every reason to be optimistic.