Personal triumph for Russian pair
Russia have recorded a historic maiden triumph at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011, beating defending champions and four-time winners Brazil quite comfortably in the final. A further mark of the quality in an outstanding Russian team came after the tournament, when the Eastern Europeans carried off two of the individual honours. FIFA.com reviews the accolades handed out at the end of the event.
adidas Golden Ball: Ilya Leonov (Russia)
The Russian captain hoisted two trophies into the Ravenna sky on Sunday evening, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup itself, and the adidas Golden Ball for the player of the tournament, the result of a poll of all officially accredited media representatives covering the event. The Russia No8 showed all the qualities associated with a true leader, contributing vital goals, keeping his defensive line superbly well-organised, and delivering textbook set plays.
adidas Silver Ball: Andre (Brazil)
There was always danger for defenders when Brazilian striker Andre moved into position, and he also mastered the happy knack of scoring just when his team desperately needed a boost. His goals ultimately made the difference in the Brazilians’ wafer-thin quarter-final victory over Nigeria, and his daring technical skill swiftly won him a host of admirers among the fans. Andre is a worthy and popular winner of the adidas Silver Ball as second-best player.
adidas Bronze Ball: Frank Velasquez (El Salvador)
El Salvador were the underdogs who ruffled the big guns’ feathers at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011, mounting a courageous charge all the way to the semi-finals, spearheaded by adidas Bronze Ball winner Frank Velasquez. There was more to the agile striker’s game than mere scoring too: his explosive pace and inventiveness in front of goal caused opposing defences no end of problems.
adidas Golden Boot: Andre (Brazil)
A fifth straight FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup triumph for Brazil proved just out of reach, but there was a consolation prize for Andre as he carried off the adidas Golden Boot. The skilled sharp-shooter finished top scorer in Ravenna with 14 goals.
adidas Silver Boot: Madjer (Portugal)
Goals are never far away when superstar Madjer takes to the sand, and the Portugal captain was his usual dependable self in Ravenna with a 12-goal haul, including a host of sizzling volleys and thunderbolt free-kicks. He takes home the adidas Silver Boot as second-highest scorer.
adidas Bronze Boot: Frank Velasquez (El Salvador)
El Salvador sniper Velasquez was his courageous team’s top scorer, and also came third in the tournament goalscoring chart. He finished with nine goals at Stadio del Mare, where he acknowledged the crowd’s cheers as he collected the adidas Bronze Boot.
adidas Golden Glove: Andrey Bukhlitskiy (Russia)
Russia’s triumph in Ravenna was based on their rock-solid defensive platform, and the cast-iron last line of defence provided by goalkeeper Andrey Bukhlitskiy. The shot-stopper drove opposing strikers to distraction with his stunning reactions, and even kept a clean sheet in his country’s group meeting with Tahiti. Even more remarkably, it is the third time the Russian has achieved the amazing feat at a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) duly named Bukhlitskiy best goalkeeper of the tournament and winner of the adidas Golden Glove.
FIFA Fair Play award: Nigeria
Nigeria came within an ace of beating previously all-conquering Brazil in the quarter-finals, finally coming off second-best in a tense period of extra-time. The Africans thrilled the crowds with their sparkling attacking play but never resorted to underhand tactics or overly muscular play, deservedly earning them the FIFA Fair Play Award.