To appreciate Switzerland’s strength one need only think back to the last edition of the global beach soccer showcase in Dubai in 2009. The Helvetians punched well above their weight, marching all the way to the final before being brought down to earth by perennial powerhouses Brazil. The feat was all the more remarkable given that it was only their second appearance at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Even in their debut outing, at Rio de Janeiro 2004, the Schweizer Nati had defied the odds by reaching the quarter-finals, before losing to big guns Spain by the odd goal in nine.
Since their recent exploits at Dubai 2009, Switzerland have forged a reputation as a skilful and tight-knit unit, one that is difficult for even the best teams to beat and with individual talents such as Dejan Stankovic, a striker of unquestionable class. The Helvetians’ last test was the recent qualifying tournament for Ravenna/Italy 2011, where they produced another tour de force, reaching the semi-finals before surprisingly losing to Ukraine, albeit on penalties, and subsequently coming off second-best to the mighty Russia in the match for third place.
Beach soccer has only recently taken off in Switzerland but the achievements of Angelo Schirinzi and his men have already set expectations soaring, with fans confident that the team can go one better than their incredible runners-up finish in 2009. In the eyes of the Helvetians’ player-coach himself, the aim is to continue improving and establish themselves towards the top of the European and world rankings. Conscious that this time they are playing with added pressure on their shoulders, the Swiss are still smiling because, come what may in Ravenna, they are determined to keep raising the bar even higher.
Nico Jung, Stefan Meier, Dejan Stankovic
The Helvetians managed to win a total of four matches and lose only two, showing irresistible attacking flair that brought them 36 goals, the third-best attacking record behind Russia and Ukraine.
The numbers game
16 - The tally of goals scored by Swiss sharpshooter Dejan Stankovic in the previous edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai. The haul earned the Serbia-born forward the dual accolade of top scorer and best player in the tournament.