A family affair
© Getty Images

Looking at the scoresheets after Argentina's first two games at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009, it is quickly apparent that the name Hilaire appears four times. While it may seem at first like a reference to a player on a roll, it refers instead to three brothers who have donned the Albiceleste shirt each year since the tournament began in 2005.

"I started playing beach soccer with my friend Joaquin Peiro and the coach at the time, Carlos Russo, liked what he saw. I then asked him to give a trial to my brothers, but without any influence or recommendations on my part. They were good enough, so they made the team," said Ezequiel, who has scored twice already at Dubai 2009.

"I've been playing with my brothers since 2004 and it's fantastic. It's very special, because it rarely happens in the world of sport," said Federico, the youngest in the family.

"It's great that the three of us are playing together for our country. It's been several years now. But of course, our parents enjoy it most of all. They watch all our matches on TV and travel to tournaments when they can," said Santiago, who scored in the opening game against Italy. "I had already scored yesterday, so today I let Federico get a couple to open his account. We discussed it last night," he added after Tuesday's match.

This good humour came as no surprise, as the Albicelestes had just defeated Costa Rica 6-0, thus keeping alive hopes of a place in the quarter-finals. Reaching that stage is a must if Argentina are to achieve their goal for this tournament: progressing further than they have before by breaking the last-eight barrier.

I've been playing with my brothers since 2004 and it's fantastic. It's very special, because it rarely happens in the world of sport.
Argentina's Federico Hilaire

But to secure qualification, they must beat Russia, who have already booked their passage with victory over Italy. "It'll be an extremely difficult match because we're in a very tight group. We'll have to play well because ourselves and Russia are on a similar level, so either of us could win," predicted Ezequiel, the eldest of the three.

"We've played Russia before and we know how hard it is. I see them as favourites for the competition, but we'll go all out to win," said Federico. "They've got great individual players, but their strong point is that they play very well as a team. But I'm also confident about our chances because we've got a great team."

Russia coach Nikolai Pisarev has already stated that despite being through to the next round, his aim is to top the group, so his team will be going out to beat the Albicelestes on Wednesday. This comes as no surprise to the brothers, who know from experience just how competitive the Russians are.

"Russia play very well. They're very strong and show great movement in front of goal. It'll be a very difficult match, but we'll give it everything we've got," said Ezequiel.

Back home in Argentina, the brothers' proud parents will undoubtedly be tuning in to see the match. After all, seeing the three of them play together in their fifth FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will surely make up for the mountains of sand Mrs. Hilaire has had to sweep up each time her boys get back from training.

"It's true that mum is a bit tired of football by now because with the three of us and our dad, she's got to put up with four men talking nothing but football," quipped Ezequiel. So the trio will surely have her in mind as they set out to do battle with Russia.