Ruthless Ukraine real contenders for the prize
With a crushing 8-1 victory over South Africa, Ukraine served notice to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 that they are opponents to avoid.
"We have a tremendous desire to play," said Ukraine player-coach Victor Moroz after the game. "We really want to do our best to put Ukrainian beach soccer in the map. We want the world to know our team."
Having beaten Spain and Italy in the European qualifiers, Ukraine's reputation for beach soccer has grown sharply in the three years since the Beach Soccer Association of Ukraine (BSAU) was established. They were the last team to play in this first round of matches - and outside of Brazil were arguably the most impressive.
Despite the mauling, the South Africans did themselves proud by battling till the end. That they scored so late showed that they were never prepared to lie down in the face of the Ukrainian onslaught.
Teamwork, organisation and skill are a potent blend in any sport and this side combines it with physiques which illustrated just how young their African opponents were. The callow, but promising Darren Dicks - who netted the consolation, will probably never have had such a tough night as Koryenyev and Varanytsya gave him here. Ukraine football and futsal sides tend to be slender and cunning. This side has brute force to go with the skill.
The South Africans again treated us to a singing and dancing performance before the game, but the first period established a pattern which was unchanged for the full 36 minutes. Ulianytskyi played Varenytsya in who finished low inside the far post. The Ukrainian No 9 had not been tracked by his marker Nzimande - an early indication of why South Africa would be taught several harsh lessons.
Two more goals followed during a torrid minute for Francisco. First he allowed Koryenyev to steal the ball in the corner and his inch-perfect cross, delivered blind, was powerfully headed home by the player coach Moroz. Francisco then fouled Koryenyev who blasted in the free-kick.
In the second period Ukraine steamrollered their inexperienced opponents, scoring four without reply to take a 7-0 lead. Pylypenko, Varenytsya , Koryenyev and Bozhenko did the damage as the South Africans failed to come to terms with Ukraine's ruthless tactics.
It was only in the third period that they eased off a little, only scoring once more - Varenytsya completing his hat-trick. Dicks' bouncing free-kick stopped Ukraine surpassing Brazil's biggest first round win and while there will be tougher tests for Ukraine ahead, on this form they must be taken very seriously indeed.
Referees: Antonio Buaiz (BRA), Lakhdar Benchabane (FRA) and Christian Hauben (BEL).