• Tahiti lie second in Group D on three points
  • Their next game is against Poland
  • “We’ve improved our finishing,” said captain Li Fung Kuee

Runners-up at Portugal 2015, Tahiti arrived at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 with the logical belief they could go one step further and win the title. It was then that they came straight back down to Earth.

Awaiting the Tiki Toa in their first match was a Brazil side in no mood to let them settle. One comprehensive 4-1 defeat later, the Tahitians found themselves with just 48 hours to lift themselves for their next game and address the shortcomings in their game.

Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com, their captain Raimana Li Fung Kuee explained how they managed to do just that: “We’ve improved our finishing. We created a lot of chances against Brazil but we couldn’t take that last step. This time, though, we made the most of some key moves and got the win.”

The win in question came against Japan in an exciting end-to-end match in which both sides gave everything they had, serving up no shortage of entertainment for the fans. And, just when extra time was looming at the National Beach Soccer Arena in Nassau, Li Fung Kuee popped up with his side’s winner.

“All goals are the same to my mind, because they’re all worth the same in the end,” said the skipper. “It was an important goal, though, because there were only two minutes left. I was played in with a lovely pass and all I had to do was put the ball in the back of the net. I knew when it went in that it was going to be an important goal because there wasn’t much time left. I knew it had every chance of being the winner.”

It did indeed turn out to be the decisive goal, allowing Tahiti to pick up their first points at Bahamas 2017, their fourth world finals. With all that experience behind him, Li Fung Kuee is well placed to explain why there is so little to choose between teams now.

“Over the years beach soccer has become very tactical and technical,” explained the 32-year-old. “It’s a more beautiful and spectacular game for the fans now. It’s come on so much, though, that every team is much better than they were, which is why matches are so tough now, no matter who you’re up against.”

A dedicated family man who spends as much time as possible with his loved ones, Li Fung Kuee is keeping his eyes firmly on Tahiti’s main objective, in spite of the all-round improvement in standards: “We’re here for the trophy. We’ve come to the Bahamas to take it back to Tahiti and to celebrate with our people.”