THE DAY REPLAYED – The line-up for the first two quarter-finals of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 was decided on Monday. Hosts Portugal got the better of Argentina to clinch top spot in Group A and set up a tie with Switzerland in the next round, while Italy topped Group B and will now face Japan. FIFA.com rounds up the day’s events in Espinho.
Beaten in their opening two games, Oman and Costa Rica went head-to-head in the first match of the afternoon, with the Asians emerging victorious. Next on the sand was the winner-take-all clash between Portugal and Argentina. Cheered on by the majority of the 3,500 capacity crowd packed into the Estadio da Baia, the hosts showed all their quality to ease to a 7-2 win.
Then came another make-or-break encounter, as Japan took on Senegal with a place in the last eight at stake. After surging into a 4-0 lead, the Japanese endured some nervy moments when the Africans produced a late three-goal burst. That was the end of the scoring, however, with the AFC side then waiting to found out who they would face in the quarters.
As it turned out that team would be Italy. Already qualified along with Switzerland, the Italians won the battle for top spot in Group B, thereby avoiding Portugal in the next round, a fate that now awaits the Swiss on Thursday.
Portugal 7-2 Argentina
Japan 4-3 Senegal
Oman 7-2 Costa Rica
Switzerland 4-6 Italy
A fond farewell
Oman and Costa Rica took their leave of Portugal 2015 on Monday, but not before expressing their gratitude for the support they have received from the Portuguese fans. The Omanis threw official shirts into the stands, while Los Ticos tossed wristbands bearing the country’s slogan, Pura Vida, to the fans, who responded with a huge ovation for both sides. “We gave away some of our official shirts because it was our last game and we wanted to show how much we appreciated their support,” said Oman defender Yahya al Araimi.
A little Madjer magic
Portugal’s match against Argentina was nearing the end of the first period when Alan was forced to limp off after suffering a heavy foul. Madjer came on in his place to take the resulting free-kick, and as if aware of what was about to happen next, the fans began to signal their appreciation of the local idol and chant his name. Not wanting to disappoint, the Portugal captain thrashed the ball home to put his side 2-0 up.
Old habits die hard
Switzerland coach Angelo Schirinzi was forced to register himself as a player when a member of his squad pulled out with injury before the start of the tournament. Schirinzi stepped out for the first time on Monday and capped his appearance by scoring his side’s second goal with a dazzling bicycle-kick, the sixth goal of his newly-extended World Cup career.
Ndiaye feels the pain
No one and nothing could console Senegal goalkeeper Al Seyni Ndiaye when the final whistle sounded on his side’s defeat to Japan. A star performer for the Africans in Espinho, Ndiaye collapsed in a heap on the sand as if unable to comprehend that his side were out of the competition. “I’m devastated because I thought we were going to win,” said the disbelieving custodian.
The stat 5 - the number of times that Japan have now reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in eight appearances. The Asian side’s best result so far was fourth place in 2005.
“We lost our three games but it’s been a positive experience. Portugal is a great country and I’d love to live here,” Costa Rica wide man Danny Johnson.
“It was our first ever World Cup win. It wasn’t difficult at all to motivate the players for this game. The fans give you all the motivation you need,” Oman coach Talib al Thanawi.
“It was a decisive match, but to be honest, we didn’t feel any more pressure than we were already under. It’s normal to feel a little nervous and I want to dedicate this win to the thousands of fans who are supporting us,” Portugal captain Madjer.
“We played really badly! The defence just didn’t perform and we’re out of the tournament,” Argentina pivot Rodrigo Lopez.* *
“Reaching the quarters was our first objective and everything’s going well for us so far. Even when Senegal scored their three goals I never stopped believing,” Japan goalkeeper Shingo Terukina.
“Japan are a very physical team and in Ozu they’ve got a giant in defence. If we play to the best of our abilities, though, we can win,” Italy pivot Gabriele Gori.
“We don’t feel any extra pressure because we’re up against Portugal in the quarter-finals. I think they’ll be feeling more nervous than us because they’re at home,” Switzerland defender Mo Jaeggy.
Next matchday, Tuesday 14 July (Local times listed)