From 27 April to 7 May 2017, the Bahamas will provide the stage for the ninth edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. In Nassau, 16 teams will aim to dethrone reigning champions Portugal, who lifted the trophy on home soil in 2015.
With a little less than a year to go before the event kicks off, the various confederations involved have already started to prepare for their respective qualifying competitions. FIFA.com takes a closer look at the road to Bahamas 2017.
Africa gets ball rolling
From 26 August to 18 September, 14 CAF representatives will compete in an initial qualifying round, with the winners of the seven ties – as well as hosts Nigeria – advancing to the 2016 CAF Beach Soccer Championship. The eventual finalists of the event, set to take place in Lagos between 7 and 11 December, will both book berths in the Bahamas.
CAF qualifying matches:
(First legs to be held on 26 and 28 August; second legs scheduled for 16 and 18 September)
The other routes
The OFC, meanwhile, have selected Tahiti to represent Oceania at Bahamas 2017. The Tiki Toa have been an absolute revelation on the sand in recent times, finishing fourth as hosts in 2013, and reaching the final at Portugal 2015. The Tahitians will likely be a force to be reckoned with in 2017, and worthy standard-bearers for their continent.
UEFA’s qualifying tournament will take place between 2 and 11 September 2016. A number of yet-to-be-announced European nations will compete for four qualifying slots in Jesolo (Italy). At the previous qualifying competition in 2014, Russia defeated Switzerland 6-5 in the final.
Elsewhere, the CONCACAF qualifiers – from which two teams will emerge with tickets to Bahamas 2017 – are scheduled to take place early in 2017, with teams and venues still to be decided.
From 5 to 12 February 2017, ten CONMEBOL teams will battle it out in Asuncion (Paraguay) for three available qualifying places.
Last but not least, dates and a venue have yet to be confirmed for the AFC Beach Soccer Championship, at the culmination of which three Asian sides will secure a spot at Bahamas 2017.