Ruben Morales Zerecero from Mexico was crowned the champion of the Brazilian FIFA Interactive World Cup Final 2008 today after defeating previous champion Andre Buffo and new challenger Richard Riviere in a sensational event in Sao Paolo.
This was certainly one of the most exciting, energetic and emotional qualifiers that the FIFA Interactive World Cup has ever seen. The 18-year-old Mexican made the ten hour flight from Mexico City to Brazil to compete here, desperate for a place at the Grand Final in Berlin, having lost out narrowly in the semi-finals of the USA event a few weeks ago.
A delighted Ruben said, "I am very tired but so excited. I have been dreaming of going to Germany for another chance to become champion of the world."
It wasn't only the virtual skills that were on display though, as the FIFA Interactive World Cup in Brazil included a wide variety of real football skills tests for the players to show off their moves. As you would expect from the streets of Brazil, the skills were awesome and the one-on-one pitch was a fiercely competed battle ground throughout the day, with some of the action well deserving of a place in the latest FIFA Street game.
Back in the interactive competition, the quality was high throughout, with all players playing that famous samba style of passing, attacking football that this country is so well known for. The competition, however, was really all about two players: two young virtual athletes at the absolute peak of their game showing just how impressive this form of football really can be.
Andre Buffo was the Brazilian champion from the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2006 and has played well over 800 matches in preparation for this event.
Ruben Morales Zerecero, from Mexico City, won the USA event and was then placed third in the world at the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final in 2005. He also reached the latter stages of the 2006 Grand Final having qualified as the online champion of Mexico.
These two players cut through the field at will, scoring seven, eight or even nine goals per game and completely dominating all those who faced them. The draw was cruel, however, and they ultimately faced each other in the semi-finals, rather than the final that the crowd would have loved to see. The match had a final atmosphere to it however, and the partisan Brazilian crowd was firmly on the side of Andre, with Ruben flying the lone flag for Mexico. The match did not disappoint, and in a thrilling encounter, Ruben finally defeated Andre, and the hostile Brazilian crowd, 4-3 after extra time.
The final itself was again a close affair, but Ruben's strength told through, finally defeating a brave Richard Riviere 3-1. Ruben is now looking forward to the Grand Final, saying: "It's not going to be easy. It will be even tougher than today but I know that I can do it."
On today's form, he will have a great chance.
This was a big weekend for the FIFA Interactive World Cup with four new finalists being selected after events taking place in South Africa, Spain and Switzerland as well as here in Brazil. Next week sees events in Italy and then New Zealand as the FIFA Interactive World Cup qualifiers continue around the world.