France show their class
There can no longer be any doubt that France are one of the best beach soccer sides on the planet. Even without deploying all their talents, the reigning world champions thrashed Canada on Sunday 5 November to book their place in the last eight at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2006.
"They're the champions of the world and they beat Spain so easily in their opening game that we weren't under any illusions about our chances," declared Rosario Ongaro, the Canadian coach. We made things difficult for them at times, but the score reflects the gap which remains between the two teams. We paid a high price for all our errors."
Within two minutes of the kick-off, France knew they were in for a robust physical challenge, with Jean-Marie Aubry called upon to save his side on three separate occasions. But little by little, the difference in class between the two teams started to make itself felt. Stephane François's delicate lob was kept out by the crossbar, but in the moments that followed, Laurent Castro made the breakthrough with a medium-range strike.
By introducing Sebastien Perez in defence, Eric Cantona was asking his players to break up the ferocious rhythm that characterised the first third. From that point on, the French strikes on goal came increasingly from distance, though the threat they posed remained as great as ever.
So much so, in fact, that by the end of a second period marked by a large number of substitutes, France had already built up a healthy lead.
Courtesy of this cushion, Cantona was content to control the rest of the match. Even without the key players from the win over Spain - Didier Samoun and Marc Libbra - Les Bleus were every bit as clinical in attack. The game also served as a showcase for the talent of the little midfielder from La Reunion, Jeremy Basquaise (scorer of a hat trick on the day).
"I didn't do anything special. It was a real squad performance and a victory for the system put in place by the coach. Against such a highly physical side, he placed the emphasis on speed and skill. In any case, I'm happy for my island and dedicate my goals to all the Reunionese."
Referees: Renato De Carlos (BRA), Zondo Thabani (RSA), Joao Duarte (BRA)