Brazil take third place in style
Recovering swiftly from their semi-final disappointment, Brazil stormed to victory over Japan to take third place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005. The Japanese resisted well in the first few minutes until, exhausted by their heroic exploits this week, they finally cracked against an Auriverde side determined to save face in front of their own fans.
"Today we proved that Brazilian beach soccer cannot be destroyed by losing a penalty shoot-out," announced the host nation's coach Índio after the match. "My team showed all their experience and professionalism. It's true that this isn't the final placing we'd hoped for, but we did everything we could to make sure we finished third."
Brazil began unsurely in what was a fairly strange encounter, with the home crowd notably less enthusiastic than usual. It was immediately clear that the Brazilians never expected to be involved in the match for third place, and their punishment was swift. Meeting a throw-out from goalkeeper Kato, Kawaharazuka lobbed a deft header beyond Robertinho (1-0).
But without the injured Makino, one of the revelations of the tournament, Japan were an invariably weaker proposition than in previous matches. And the Auriverde were not slow in responding to the early blow. Junior Negão, Buru and Juninho all found the back of the net to give Brazil a comfortable two-goal lead at the end of the first period (3-1).
Worn out by four draining games in the last few days, the Japanese looked to be suffering badly in the second period. Errors of technique began creeping into their game and they soon had to rely on Kato to try and prevent a deluge of goals.
With twelve minutes to go, however, Brazil's lead had become a lot healthier: Nenem (2), Benjamin and Buru had all struck for the hosts, with only Wakabayashi hitting the target for Japan (7-2). The stage was set for Romario, and he brought the stadium to its feet with a quickfire hat-trick that took the scoreboard into double figures for the first time in the competition (10-2).
The Japanese were hardly in the game at all by now. No one could blame them after such a fabulous and physically-demanding week, however, and Brazil had the decency to play seriously, without pushing themselves to the limit. They still had one more goal in them, though, which appropriately enough fell to Jorginho, who had had sections of the crowd on his back after missing the decisive penalty in yesterday's semi-final (11-2).
Japan coach Rui Ramos accepted the outcome with typical honesty. "After a match like the one we had against France, it was difficult to muster the kind of energy needed to live with Brazil. In the end, we held on for seven minutes, but Brazil wanted to win so badly that we couldn't keep up with their rhythm."
Referees: Pinto Correia (POR), Lakhdar Benchabane (FRA), Joao Almeida (POR).