Having been held in Brazil, the birthplace of beach soccer, in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and then in France in 2008, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup™ moves to a new continent once again this year with the fifth edition scheduled to take place on Jumeirah beach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 16 to 22 November.
This week, Playa Pocitos in Montevideo, Uruguay played host to CONMEBOL's qualifying competition for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009™. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Peru and Uruguay went head to head to secure the three spots on offer in the South American zone.
Uruguay, who were runners-up in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janiero 2006, and three-time champions Brazil (2008, 2007, 2006) won their respective semi-finals to secure two of the three available berths. Brazil had defeated Argentina 3-1 in their semi-final, powered by three goals from Andre, the tournament's top scorer, while Facundo Minici scored for Argentina. For their part, Uruguay defeated Ecuador 6-2 on goals from Martin Diaz, Fabian Canaveris, Olivera and Sarandi Sobral, or "Pampero" as he is better known. In that match, Virley Conforme scored both of Ecuador's goals.
Uruguay and Brazil then squared off in the South American final, though both teams had already qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009. Brazil won the final in what can only be described as resounding fashion, defeating Uruguay 10-1 to retain the regional trophy. Brazil left no doubt as to their skill and determination, winning all five of their matches while scoring 39 goals and allowing only six.
The winner of the third-place match between Argentina and Ecuador decided who would get the final berth. And the Albiceleste had to pull out all the stops to beat Ecuador 9-8 in extra time. It was a last gasp goal by none other than goalkeeper Marcelo Salgueiro that gave the victory to Argentina with only 44 seconds left on the clock. The winners of the competition's final awards were as follows: Best Player: Virley Conforme of Ecuador; Top Scorer: Andre of Brazil; and Best Goalkeeper: Mão of Brazil.
The CONCACAF, OFC, UEFA, CAF and AFC qualifying tournaments have yet to be played and will occur soon. At the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009 in November, sixteen teams, including the United Arab Emirates who qualify automatically as hosts, will battle it out for the title that was claimed for the third time by Brazil last year on the sands of Marseille.