Côte d'Ivoire have done it the hard way at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013. Shorn of several players on the eve of the tournament due to visa issues, Côte d'Ivoire slipped to a hefty 10-6 defeat against Paraguay and a surprisingly resilient 5-2 loss against reigning world champions Russia.
After the completion of two matches for each team at Tahiti 2013, they have the biggest tally in the goals against column. Despite this, Côte d'Ivoire boast a striker who sits just one shy of top spot in the leading goalscorers tally; Daniel Kouassitchi.
The Ivorians have turned in two big-hearted performances thus far in French Polynesia. In many ways their free-scoring , led by the impressive Kouassitchi, is indicative of their attacking flair and willingness to put relentless forward movement ahead of all else.
Kouassitchi first grabbed international attention at the tender age of 19, hitting the back of the net against El Salvador at Dubai 2009. Four more goals in French Polynesia include a hat-trick against Paraguay, with the lithe Kouassitchi constantly demonstrating his ability to quickly turn and find space in his role as team pivot.
“I’m very happy when I score a goal,” he told FIFA.com while still dripping water after the team recovered from their exertions against Russia with a dip in Tahiti’s pristine waters. “I’m very proud to represent Côte d'Ivoire and I’m proud to represent our nation in this tournament.
“We have a good team, and we have proven that by playing well. Everyone is whole-hearted for the team cause.”
The world stage
It seems Kouassitchi is a good fit for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup with his strong track-record as an ever-present throughout the Ivorians’ five matches across two appearances in the tournament.“I enjoy playing in the World Cup,” said the softly-spoken striker. “This is my second World Cup. I am very happy to be here [in Tahiti], everyone is welcoming and hospitality.”
Kouassitchi has a preference for sand-based football, and it is a surface he is familiar he has been familiar with since a young age in his home city; former national capital Grand-Bassam. “I began playing on the sand in my village when I was five or six.”
Mathematically the Ivorians are not eliminated yet, although it would take an unlikely series of results to overhaul either next opponents Japan or Paraguay. So will more goals be added to his personal tally against Japan? “It is what I want, and I’m preparing myself to do so,” he said. “We will do our best as a team and I think I will score more goals.”