Soares: I'll remember this forever
There can be little doubt that going into a tournament as hosts and heavy favourites is a big responsibility for any coach. Doing so while having to satisfy the notoriously demanding Brazilian fans is riskier still. Yet, despite the intense pressure, Auriverde mastermind Alexandre Soares has been calmness personified throughout his bid to guide Brazil to victory in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Even now, moments after watching his side crowned world champions, Soares stubbornly refuses to shed his aura of controlled calm. Read on as the seemingly nerveless tactician shares his views on this year's tournament, his relationship with the fans and the sport's new-found role in Brazilian society with FIFA.com. "Let's hope we can build on this achievement," he says with typical understatement.
Senhor Soares, taking charge of the overwhelming tournament favourites on home soil cannot have been easy. Was winning the title an enormous weight off your chest?
No, I don't think that you can go that far. We knew that we were one of the favourites, that's for sure, but Spain were too and they went home after the first round. Portugal had come second last year, while France were the reigning champions. I think that we were part of that group of teams along with Uruguay. As such, we had to work hard and grow as a team to be successful, and that's exactly what we did. Every man played his heart out for his team-mates, and with God's help we got our reward.
The atmosphere in the stadium was white-hot for every game involving Brazil. How did it feel down at pitch-side?
At the beginning of the tournament there was a certain amount of uncertainty surrounding the team, but from the second game onwards the atmosphere was always 100-percent positive. We started to play better, we put on more of a show, we pulled off some beautiful moves and managed to rack up several high-scoring wins. This bunch of players managed to get every single fan behind them, and it was fantastic.
During the first game the fans were calling for of a number of players who had not made your final squad. Would we be right in saying that winning the title was a personal victory for you?
No, not at all. This win is down to the players. Both parties, players and coaches, were on the same wavelength throughout, which made achieving our goal that much easier. I don't harbour any feelings of revenge or of personal success. In fact, quite the opposite is true. They (the players) needed an opportunity to prove their worth and we gave it to them. Now that the world's media have seen what they can do, it won't take long before they all enjoy hero status.
Going back to the game against Uruguay, at what point did you realise that Brazil were going to be crowned champions?
When I looked over at the substitutes' bench and saw that the players were all totally relaxed. That was what convinced me that we'd achieve our objective. It's quite different when you try to make eye contact with a player and they look away, or you can tell that they're trying to hide. In this case every single one of them was desperate to get onto the pitch and get involved, and that made me very confident about what was going to happen. Out on the pitch it was exactly the same: they gave everything they had, they were all looking to get involved and their enthusiasm was there for all to see. That proves that we did our jobs well.
What do you think was the key factor behind your success?
The team spirit was marvellous. Everyone became firm friends and there was a very harmonious atmosphere in the camp. Everybody in this team gets on well and feels comfortable expressing their own opinions, from the youngest member of the squad to the most experienced, Junior Negao. That breeds a very positive kind of familiarity within the squad, and you could tell that they really wanted to win as a team, without anybody standing out above the rest.
You mentioned the harmonious atmosphere in the camp, how did you all manage to look so relaxed, even in those incredibly tense moments leading up to the final?
That's just something we're born with. Sometimes you ask yourself how Brazilians can enjoy life so much given the harsh reality of the political and economic situation in the country. Whatever happens we never let ourselves get down (laughs). It's difficult to explain, but it's certainly something that you can see out on the field of play.
I imagine that you will have a host of great memories to look back on after this tournament…
Of course! I'll be able to look back at loads of fantastic memories. I'll remember what happened here for the rest of my life.
One last question, what do you think this victory will do for Brazilian beach soccer?
Let's hope that we can build on this achievement so that from now on every state and every province plays their part in taking this sport forward. It's vital to take advantage of the form these players are in by taking them to different regional competitions and working as hard as the CBF did to help us win this title. The time has come for the various state federations to do their bit towards producing more great players.