The fifth matchday at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013 was marked by hard-fought tight contests, as the first part of the quarter-final line-up was completed. Four-time winners Brazil, reigning champions Russia, plus Iran and Japan all advanced, although the latter pair were made to sweat through a tense evening.
Brazil progress was assured after Iran fell 3-2 to Ukraine earlier in the day, and A Seleção celebrated in style with an 8-3 win over Senegal. Iran advanced by the slenderest of margins in a three-way head-to-head after they finished on three points with Ukraine and Senegal.
The other group saw Côte d'Ivoire push Japan all the way before the East Asians prevailed in extra time. Ruy Ramos’ side had to then hope Paraguay could not defeat Russia in normal time. That proved to be the case, though only by the narrowest of margins as Paraguay eventually succumbed 4-3 in extra time.
The first quarter-final matches confirmed are Brazil against Japan, while Russia will meet Iran. Argentina are the only nation to have nailed down top spot in the other side of the draw, although Spain and Tahiti have also qualified for the knockout stage.
Just one goal....
In the world of beach soccer where goals fly in at a constant rate, Ukraine can consider themselves highly unlucky to be going home after the group stage. With three minutes and 18 seconds left on the clock in their match against Iran, the East Europeans were ahead of their opponents in a three-way head-to-head but Peyman Hosseini’s strike changed everything. The fact that Hosseini is Iran’s goalkeeper and his shot travelled the length of the court will only add to Ukraine’s anguish. With three wins for Brazil as group winners, Iran edged into the knockout stage for the first time in their fifth attempt.
Dancing in synergy
Male dancers entertaining the crowd during one of the two intervals has been a new sight at this edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The female cheerleaders who feature during the other break have become renowned in many parts of the world, having appeared at numerous sporting events, including previous editions of this tournament and the Olympic Games. Perhaps there has been some friendships made back stage between the two groups over the past week with a sudden, and seemingly impromptu, shared routine today adding a new layer to what is already an event full of action and colour.
The hard way
The odds on Côte d'Ivoire claiming a win on the final matchday against an in-form Japan seemed long, with the team fielding just one substitute due to visa issues. They somehow found the stamina to stay with their opponents and force extra time, before unluckily conceding with little more than 40 seconds remaining after Japan were awarded a penalty. The Ivorians received a hearty post-match reception from the crowd, and the players responded in kind, having clearly enjoyed their sojourn to French Polynesia.
10 – Russia’s third successive victory at the tournament - albeit a very narrow one – lifted the Ravenna 2011 champions to ten straight wins in the tournament, alongside France whose run concluded in 2009. They still, however, have some way to go if they are to overhaul Brazil’s remarkable record tally of 30.
“After this game I feel very happy because we played well today and we can leave this World Cup with our head held high. This World Cup was very well organised, I wish it could be happen again" Côte d'Ivoire coach Lohognon Soro
Next up (local time)
United Arab Emirates-USA (16:00)
Solomon Islands-El Salvador (17:30)
Netherlands - Argentina (20:30)