The sands of Jumeirah Beach may never be the same after absorbing a week’s worth of punishment as the world’s best beach soccer players let feet fly in pursuit of glory here at Dubai 2009. And it just keeps getting better. Sunday is the final day of competition, a day in which two proven sides will fight for a spot the final three, and a plucky tournament debutant has the opportunity to take the title and write their names in the annals of beach soccer lore.
Game of the day
Brazil-Switzerland, 21.00 (local time)
The match for beach soccer’s biggest prize pits defending champions Brazil against competition newcomers Switzerland. Brazil looked as free-flowing and deadly as ever in their semi-final match against Portugal. The Swiss put on an equally impressive show, propelled by the tournament’s leading scorer Dejan Stankovic, who added a mere four additional goals to his impressive tally.
Though given stern tests by both Portugal and Italy, Brazil have essentially been on cruise control for much of their stay at Jumeirah Beach. Against the long-time masters of beach soccer, Switzerland will seek to build upon their exceptional form to leave no doubt that they are the future of beach soccer.
Can Brazil earn their 25th consecutive victory at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and claim their fourth consecutive crown? Or will November prove to be an even better month for Swiss football, as the upstart newcomers seek to replicate the recent success of their U-17 compatriots.
Portugal and Uruguay are set to contest the match for third place in a reprise of their group stage encounter. Though they dropped a nail-biter to the Solomon Islands, Uruguay looked very capable in their matches with both Portugal, who they dismissed thanks to Coco’s late strike, and the United Arab Emirates.
These two capable sides met in the quarter-finals of Marseille 2008, where Portugal emerged victorious in a 6-3 win. Uruguay will need to neutralize the inspiring Belchior, but will also remember that it was Madjer and Alan who tallied two apiece in Portugal’s 5-4 defeat of Uruguay at Rio de Janeiro 2006. Indeed, Portugal know more than one way to win and will be considering their strategy carefully as they prepare to face the runners-up at Rio de Janeiro 2006.
Player to watch
Switzerland’s goalkeeper Nico Jung has turned in stellar performances since arriving in Dubai, helping his side become only the second newcomers to make it to FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup final, following Mexico’s example in 2007. With Brazil’s evenly balanced strike-force looming large and eager to defend their title, Jung will need to be at his very best, indeed.
37 and 26 – The number of goals that Brazil and Switzerland respectively have tallied at Dubai 2009 to date, to earn the top two slots in terms of goalscoring productivity. Word to the wise: take cover when the sparks begin to fly and both sides let loose in the tournament finale on Jumeirah Beach on Sunday.
“We are realistic. We know that Brazil is very strong. That is why we have to play very concentrated tomorrow. We cannot make any mistake if we want to have a chance. The secret of our success is only passion and team work. We have made a great tournament and we want to finish in the best way. Nothing is impossible.” – Switzerland player/coach Angelo Schirinzi
“Switzerland are the surprise of this tournament. They are very strong as a group and have shown their skills in all of the matches that they have played. It will be a very complicated game.” – Buru, Brazil player