Brazil tuned up for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 with a typically exuberant and crowd-pleasing display to win the 2017 South American Beach Soccer Championship, the sixth time they have lifted the continental title. Joining them at the world finals will be Paraguay and Ecuador, with the latter securing a place for the first time in their history.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action from the week-long competition, held in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion on 5-12 February, which saw Argentina fail to make the World Cup for the first time.
The group phase
Group A: 1. Paraguay, 12 points; 2. Argentina, 9 pts; 3. Uruguay, 6 pts; 4. Chile, 3 pts; 5. Bolivia, 0 pts
Paraguay made their intentions clear in topping Group A, though they were made to work hard by Chile, with the hosts trailing at the end of the first period before coming back to win. Argentina, whose only defeat came against the Paraguayans, took second place.
Group B: 1. Brazil, 12 points; 2. Ecuador, 7 pts; 3. Peru, 6 pts; 4. Colombia, 3 pts; 5. Venezuela, 0 pts
Brazil were in a class of their own in Group B, comfortably winning all their games and never looking in any danger, with in-form goalkeeper Mao conceding a mere eight goals and deservedly going on to win the Golden Glove award. Joining the Brazilians in the semis were Ecuador.
The first semi-final saw Brazil secure their place at Bahamas 2017 with a comprehensive 7-1 win over old rivals Argentina. Lucas scored twice for A Verdeamarela as they turned on the style, with Hilaire grabbing La Albiceleste’s only goal, which came when they were trailing 5-0.
The second semi, between Paraguay and Ecuador, was an entirely different affair and needed extra time to separate the two sides, this after Moreira had pulled the Ecuadorians level at 3-3 four minutes from the end of normal time. Carlos Carballo won the day for the hosts, however, scoring two superb goals to ensure they will be making the trip to the world finals, to be held in Bahamas on 27 April-7 May.
The last South American ticket to the World Cup was decided in a historic match for third place. Putting their semi-final defeats behind them, Ecuador and Argentina served up a thrilling 4-4 draw, the very same scoreline they produced at the same stage of the competition two years ago, when the Argentinians ultimately prevailed. On this occasion, however, it was La Tri who won the day, with Jorge Bailon converting the decisive penalty in the shootout – following three Argentinian misses – to take Ecuador through to their maiden beach soccer world finals, while La Albiceleste will sit out the competition for the first time ever.
“It wasn’t easy at all but we got the job done in the end,” said Ecuador coach Jose Francisco Palma. “You have to put an awful lot of effort into this sport and it requires a great deal of physical preparation. The boys dug deep and made everyone happy.”
The final was also a repeat of the 2015 showpiece match, as Brazil and Paraguay faced off for the continental crown. Though A Verdeamarela emerged 7-5 winners, they were made to work harder than two years ago, when the winning margin was five goals. Led by Pedro Moran, who struck four times, the Paraguayans never gave up and came close to denying the Brazilians a title they have grown accustomed to making theirs.
*Qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017
Player of the tournament
Carlos Carballo (Paraguay)
Victor Belaunde (Chile)