The pride of El Salvador
Goalkeepers are infrequent heroes in beach soccer. The sport is, after all, designed for the executors of outrageous flicks and scorers of spectacular goals to command the headlines. And that they have so far at Marseille 2008.
Curiously, so too have a crop of No1s. Al Seyni Ndiaye emerged as the hero of Senegal's opening-day victory, allowing just five of France's 24 shots on target to beat him before his side went on to triumph on penalties, Les Bleus' very own Jean-Marie Aubry produced a superb save to earn his team a shootout win over Iran which spared them from elimination, and yesterday it was the turn of Argentina's Marcelo Salgueiro and Andrey Bukhlitskiy of Russia to earn the plaudits.
The aforementioned keepers have, nonetheless, been outshone by one of their counterparts. On the face of it, conceding eight goals in his first outing against Portugal may reflect badly on El Salvador's Luis Rodas. Anybody watching from the Stade du Prado, or on FIFA.com TV, would adamantly dispel that suggestion.
The Central American minnows had their goal peppered throughout the match, but Rodas employed his bravery, athleticism and sharp reflexes to repeatedly deny Madjer and Co. Indeed, his resolute protection of El Salvador's goal was central to them taking a 2-1 lead in at the first period, and although the Portuguese ultimately ran out 8-2 winners, their margin could have been far greater had it not been for Rodas' brilliance.
Italy discovered that his Marseille 2008 debut was no one-off. Rodas' hands kept El Salvador only 1-0 down for over half of Saturday's game, and their 4-1 defeat by Italy was an achievement considering the gulf in experience and reputation of the two teams.
"I am pleased with my performances, although I would have swapped them for victories," admitted Rodas. "But Portugal and Italy are two very good sides and we are an inexperienced team. I thought we played very well and this will help us improve for next year."
"I saw our national flag in the crowd and I felt so happy. I'm so proud to be representing my El Salvador in the World Cup. Now I want to make our people proud by helping our country beat Solomon Islands."
Regardless of the outcome of today game, Rodas has certainly filled his compatriots with pride.