Enam, captain and keeper
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As the last line of defence, every goalkeeper shoulders enormous responsibility. But when the custodian in question also wears the captain’s armband, you come to expect a player of considerable presence. A prime example is that of Côte d'Ivoire’s Boris Enam, who displays composure and leadership skills in equal measure. 

Despite the presence of more senior players like Abdoulaye Traore, Muller Kouame and Hamed Coulibaly, coach Aka Atche has put his faith in Enam, who is relishing the chance to lead his side at their maiden FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. 

“Being the keeper I’m always first to try and inspire the lads. I believe that if you keep your goal intact, it can be a big incentive to the outfield players. I usually talk to them as well and give them advice during matches, and now that I’m captain I think this aspect is more important than ever.” 

The Elephants secured a place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after finishing second to Nigeria in their qualifying tournament – something Enam regards as an historic achievement. “I’m very happy to be playing at the World Cup, and it’s all thanks to the massive effort we made in qualifying. This is Côte d’Ivoire’s maiden appearance at the event, and I’m extremely proud to be one of the first players from my country to take part.” 

The 35-year-old can expect a busy few days in Dubai, where his side have been grouped with three continental champions in Spain, Japan and El Salvador. Despite the enormity of the task, Enam is confident his team can cause an upset or two, beginning with their opening fixture on Monday against El Salvador. “Our opponents have all experienced this before, while we’re making our debut, so obviously it will be difficult. However, I’m convinced we have something to bring to the tournament and hope we succeed in getting past the first round.” 

Looking ahead to the fixtures, Enam said, “El Salvador are a very good team, but for me the games against Spain and Japan will be the toughest because of their strength and experience. Therefore it’s critical we beat El Salvador if we want to qualify for the knockout stage.” 

There could not be a more fitting stage than Jumeirah beach for Enam and Co to showcase their skills, and it is an opportunity the captain is determined to seize. “I won’t be playing for myself, but for all of Côte d'Ivoire. That’s why I have to perform well and try to lead my team to success.” 

Enam concluded the interview with a firm show of confidence, saying: “Personally I don’t watch other goalkeepers. I have every faith in myself and frankly I want to play so well that other keepers try to imitate me.”