High-flying Portugal keen to impress
Staged in Italy for the first time, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup has been attracting a host of new fans to the sport. And no team has impressed the locals more in the first three days of the tournament than the free-scoring Portuguese, who have attracted many an admiring comment with their silky play.
Ze Miguel’s side have racked up two big wins so far, thumping El Salvador 11-2 and firing five unanswered goals past Argentina. While such emphatic scorelines are by no means unusual in the discipline, it is the manner in which the Lusitanians have been finding the back of the net that has had the crowds voicing their appreciation, with Madjer and Co serving up a feast of acrobatic volleys, bicycle-kicks and exquisite aerial one-twos.
“There’s no doubt we’re an attractive side to watch, but when you see the way we go about our work every day it’s no surprise we play this way. A lot of training goes into it,” Madjer told FIFA.com.
The highest goalscorer in the history of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the Portuguese front-man has provided as much entertainment at Ravenna/Italy 2011 as anyone, leading the scoring charts with seven goals to take his overall world finals tally up to 74.
“It’s strange, but these moves just come naturally to us,” added team-mate Belchior, whose artistry in the air has also had the fans leaping out of their seats. “We’ve been playing together for a long time and we like to express ourselves out there.”
As much as the fans have been enjoying Portugal’s cultured play, no one has been deriving greater pleasure from it than the players themselves, as Madjer explained: “As soon as we get back to the hotel we go straight to the computer to watch the highlights from the game. And then our friends start sending us messages about our performance.
“This team’s like one big family,” he continued. “We’re always joking around with each other, and after every game there’s only ever one subject of conversation: so and so’s bicycle kick or so and so’s pass, etc.”
Equally impressed is coach Ze Miguel, who explained that behind their natural desire to win games there is also a concern with playing the game the right way. “This is a tournament, and it goes without saying that our first objective is to win," the Portugal coach said.
"But we’re also a team that tries very hard to promote beach soccer, and the best way to do that is to play good football. That’s the spirit with which we play the game.”
“I love scoring overhead-kicks,” added Madjer, before explaining that even he is prepared to compromise their brand of beautiful beach soccer if it means winning the ultimate prize. “I’d swap every single one of them for the winner in the final, even if it went in off my hand.”