South American heavyweights and fierce rivals Brazil and Argentina both guaranteed their involvement in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna 2011, thanks to respective semi-final wins over two of the surprise packages of CONMEBOL qualifying: Colombia and Venezuela.
In the regional event held in Rio de Janeiro, hosts Brazil recorded a 6-2 victory over Los Cafeteros courtesy of goals from Andre (twice), Bruno Malias, Anderson, Daniel and Benjamim. “We achieved our primary objective, which was to book our place at the World Cup,” said coach Alexandre Soares. “Of course we want to win the qualifying tournament, but we can now start thinking about the World Cup and the opportunity to win it for a fifth time.
“The squad enjoys what they do and I think that’s why we’ve been unbeaten in qualifying and at World Cups for the past four years,” continued the Seleção supremo. “Besides which, this is the best team Brazil have ever had. I call them the Dream Team – they’re a complete side.”
In Sunday’s final, Soares’ charges will take on Argentina, who edged out Venezuela 3-2 in their semi. Just as in this July’s Copa America in the senior 11-a-side game, La Vinotinto proved they can now compete with the continent’s finest. Indeed, they even led FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup ever-presents La Albiceleste 2-1 in the second period, only to be overhauled in the third and final phase.
With Brazil and Argentina now certain to take part at Ravenna 2011, the final available CONMEBOL berth will go to the winner of Sunday’s match for third place between Colombia and Venezuela. Victory for either will be historic, given that neither side has previously reached a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.