Portugal marched into the last four of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in style thanks to seven goals, moments of sheer football brilliance and one of the most stunning goals of the tournament from Madjer. The host nation’s attack may have grabbed the headlines, but just as important was Portugal’s defence, which almost completely shut out Switzerland’s potent front line. The Seleção now look to repeat the trick against two-time World Champions Russia.
Although Portugal’s defence was breached by a brace from Noel Ott and a Dejan Stankovic goal, it was the first time in the tournament that Switzerland had been restricted to three goals in a match. There was no doubting the back line’s commitment to the cause, so much so that in their desperation to make an interception, team-mates Torres and Coimbra crashed into each other ending the former’s participation in the game and putting him in doubt for the remainder of the World Cup.
“Stankovic and Ott are two of the best Beach Soccer players in the world, that’s why they play for Switzerland, but we also have the best defenders in the world,” said Coimbra in the immediate aftermath of the quarter-final victory, when he did not yet know the seriousness of Torres’s injury. “Torres and I, or whoever plays in defence, has the task to nullify the opposition. But it is above all a team effort even though every player has their own mission on the pitch.”
The diagnosis for defensive linchpin Torres was a facial trauma, which makes him a doubt for the next matches. “These things happen. He didn’t see me coming, I didn’t see him coming, and in our anxiety to cut out the ball we ran into each other. It was an unfortunate incident, but it shows our team spirit. We give it everything to get to the ball before our opponents,” added Coimbra.
The injury to Torres opened the door for Bruno Novo, whose emotions at the end of the game were a mix of joy at reaching the semi-finals and sadness at the misfortune suffered by his great friend.
“I’d like nothing more than to celebrate this victory without thinking of anything else, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Torres means a lot to me: as well as being my Portugal team-mate, he’s my captain at Braga and he’s like a brother to me. He didn’t deserve this,” said the defender, before lifting the lid on why he considers Torres such a special team-mate.
“Knowing Torres like I do, even if he can’t play on Saturday he’ll be the first one shouting encouragement from the sidelines. He’ll be on the pitch with us, whether he plays or not,” says Novo, who also made a point of thanking the support given by the thousands of Portuguese fans who are dreaming of a World Cup triumph.
“We know Russia well, but now we’re talking about the World Cup semi-finals in our home country. The backing from these supporters is like having an extra man or two on our team! The other day I was chatting to [Spain's] Juanma about this and he had a funny way of putting it, saying that we, Portugal, were playing this World Cup with three lungs. Two inside every player and another one in the stands, and it’s absolutely true.”
With or without Torres, Portugal will certainly count on their ‘third lung’ on Saturday. And it could provide that extra bit of stamina needed to overcome the two-time world champions.