Patient Celeste keep their powder dry
Uruguay opened the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 with a 7-3 win but much of the credit went to a battling South African team. Although the Celeste always looked likely winners, the young Africans played with passion and impressive organisation for such an inexperienced and young side.
"We played well considering it was our first match and we were a little tense at the start. We got better as the game went on, but our next match will be more difficult. We knew Ukraine were watching in the stands so we didn't use all our tactical plans. I was impressed with the South Africans though, they have a quick team - one for the future," the Uruguayan coach Gustavo Sanchez said after the game.
With an average age of just 18, Bafana Bafana must have been fearing the worst against the South Americans who finished second to Brazil in qualification. The Africans started with Frazer, Dicks, Francisco, Ntwanambi and Gumede, while Uruguay began with Diego, Seba, Jorge, Martin and Chueco.
It looked as though it could be a mis-match at the start - it seemed very much men against boys. Not only were the South Africans so young, they were giving away a big height and weight advantage to their opponents. They tried to make up for this physical disparity with speed and effort on the sand.
Uruguay took an early lead through Martin, who rifled home after he had been fouled by Gumede. South Africa hit back straight away to the delight of the watching Brazilians - Francisco volleying in from the re-start. The Celeste effectively ended the contest by the end of the first period, taking a 3-1 lead through Chueco and German.
The lead was extended in the second period by Fabian, but Mthembu pegged the lead back. As expected, the Africans found the third period difficult, eventually succumbing to two goals from Ricar and one from Martin. Francisco volleyed in his second to leave the final score at 7-3.
Shezi Lidani, the South Africa coach felt he couldn't have asked for more from his team: "I'm pleased with the performance considering how much experience we lacked compared to our opponents. We can get better in this competition, I'm confident of that."