The road to Bahamas
There was no qualification tournament in the Oceania Zone, with the regional confederation choosing to name Tahiti as their representative at Bahamas 2017, and not without good reason. As well as being a local powerhouse, the Tahitians are also genuine contenders at a global level, as they showed in hosting the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Boasting a solid reputation as skilled performers on the sand – having organised the inaugural OFC championship in 2006 – the Tiki Toa lived up to it by clinching a remarkable fourth place. They then went two better at Portugal 2015, where they finished runners-up.
Strengths and style
In taking that second place in Portugal two years ago, Tahiti showed their performance on home sand in 2013 was no fluke. Led by Heimanu Taiarui, who pocketed the adidas Golden Ball in Portugal, the Tiki Toa play a high-intensity game and have plenty of skill and tactical nous to go with it. The generation that has taken Tahiti into the elite has stayed together and gained in experience, with several members of the squad now plying their trade in the prestigious Swiss league.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup record
Tahiti arrived on the big stage in 2011, when they put an end to Solomon Islands’ dominance of the Oceania beach soccer scene and qualified for the world finals for the first time in their history. The Pacific islanders made a spirited World Cup debut at Ravenna/Italy 2011, the highlight of which was a 5-2 defeat of Venezuela in their very first match. The Tiki Toa’s fourth place on home sand two years later took them into the global elite, a position they then cemented with that second place at Portugal 2015, where they claimed some major scalps, among them Russia and Italy.