Having already secured their berths in the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti with semi-final victories yesterday, Argentina met Paraguay in the final of the CONMEBOL qualifiers today to determine the region's champion. Argentina came into the final hoping to reverse their fortunes, having appeared in the championship twice before, only to fall short both times.
Paraguay started off very well and jumped ahead early, but Argentina were ultimately too much for Paraguay to handle as the hosts pulled away to a 6-2 win, delighting the 4,000 fans enjoying the festivities in Merlo, San Luis. Although Paraguay lost, the landlocked nation has a lot to cheer about as they are heading to their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup later this year.
Brazil will be joining the two finalists in Tahiti after dispatching Ecuador 11-5 in the third-place match that was in reality much closer than the scoreline would indicate. Brazil were upset by surprising Paraguay in yesterday's semi-final, leaving the four-time world champions at risk of missing out on the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for the first time if they couldn't beat the Ecuadorians.
And Ecuador proved to be a worthy opponent, keeping the match extremely close through the first two periods of play. However, with Brazil only ahead 5-4 going into the final twelve minutes, the Seleção exploded in the third period creating a lead Ecuador could not rally against. Bruno Xavier, who missed a penalty in the semi-final, scored five goals for Brazil.
The South Americans join Japan and Argentina as the only teams to have qualified for every FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to date.