Madjer scoops top-player and scorer awards
As long as Madjer is gracing the sport of beach soccer, it seems everyone else will have to make do with fighting for second place in the individual awards. At the prize giving ceremony that followed this Sunday's grand finale here in Rio de Janeiro, Portugal's star man repeated his feat of 2005 by taking home the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe as top player and goalscorer at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2006.
Joining him on the podium were the Brazilians Benjamin and Bruno, who took second and third place respectively in both categories. France, for their part, will take some consolation in being awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award after relinquishing their world crown yesterday.
adidas Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ball for the tournament's top players:
Golden Ball: Madjer (POR)
Silver Ball: Benjamin (BRA)
Bronze Ball: Bruno (BRA)
When the votes of the tournament's accredited press were tallied here at the end of play today, the winner was once again Madjer, the irrepressible Portuguese goal-getter with the penchant for acrobatic shooting. "These individual awards are very important, as they make me want to stay at this level and keep on achieving things. That said, I'd swap them all for a [world] title with the team," the player admitted afterwards.
Next in line after the Portuguese marksman were Brazil's Benjamin and Bruno. The diminutive No. 10 proved a nightmare for defenders here in Rio with his incomparable ability to glide across the sand as if it were grass. Delightful, accurate, and spectacular to watch, the front man also weighed in with more than his share of goals and has already accrued an impressive array of silverware. The powerful Bruno, meanwhile, with his superb technique, tireless running and never-say-die attitude, is a different though equally potent weapon up front. Collectively, they make a formidable partnership and have contributed enormously to the Auriverde's recent successes.
adidas Golden, Silver, and Bronze Shoe for the tournament's top scorers:
Golden Shoe: Madjer (POR) - 21 goals
Silver Shoe: Benjamin (BRA) - 12 goals
Bronze Shoe: Bruno (BRA) - 10 goals
Just as in 2005, Madjer wowed the watching world with his amazing ability to find the back of the net. Whether using his head, his left foot or courtesy of gravity-defying acrobatics and pirouettes, the Portuguese No. 7 has shown that even at the very highest level, one can always improve. In total, he found the target 21 times, 9 more than last year's tally, and took the tournament's top-scorer spot with ease.
"I know it's a bit of a cliché, but this prize belongs to the team not me. Without them I couldn't score so many goals; that's the reality. Therefore, I want to thank them first and foremost," the striker said with typical humility.
Tall and rangy, Madjer found the target in every game here in Rio. During the group phase he notched up an impressive 12 strikes, including 6 in his side's second outing against Cameroon.
Then in the quarter-finals, he fired in a hat-trick against Bahrain to help set up a last-four meeting with Brazil. In what turned out to be a classic encounter, the 29-year-old stuck three times in the first period, though not even that could make up for the disappointment of missing out on a place in the final to the hosts. "That game was my best performance of the tournament. However, much as I will continue to strive for personal successes, I'd swap it all for a [world] title with the team," he added. This time round, his Portuguese side had to make do with fourth place after losing today's Match for 3rd place to France.
The Silver and Bronze awards stayed in Brazil thanks to the efforts of Benjamin and Bruno, who between them clocked up 22 goals on the way to the world title.
France embrace Fair Play
Although they came up short in their bid to retain their world title, Eric Cantona's charges provided another lesson in sportsmanship on the sands of Copacabana to earn this year's FIFA Fair Play award.
In every FIFA competition, world football's governing body recognise the team with the best behaviour. On this occasion, Les Bleus took the honours and were duly rewarded with a trophy, diploma and medals as well as USD 10,000 worth of sports equipment for its association's youth sides.