Acuna: Paraguay will be contenders
Roberto Acuna is an ambassador for Paraguay 2019
Former international is confident Paraguay will perform very well as hosts
Tickets are available: You can reserve yours now!
Despite playing at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 Paraguay's Roberto Acuna still finds himself amazed at the skills produced by stars of this discipline.
"I never managed a single bicycle kick during my career, not even at that World Cup, so it's not my specialty!" the man nicknamed El Toro (The Bull) told FIFA.com. "However, I'm still in touch with the lads and see them train. Their skill always surprises me."
In his capacity as ambassador for next month’s tournament, Acuna participated in the group stage draw in September. It was an occasion, he confessed, that made him "a bit nervous"—unusual you might think for someone who took part in three FIFA World Cups™ and played 100 times for his country.
"I’ve always been proud to represent Paraguay, and that hasn’t changed, no matter what the role is," said Acuna, who is also on the coaching staff for the Albirroja U-17 team who will be competing at the impending FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.
"That feeling of butterflies in your stomach, which I used to get just before I stepped onto the pitch or the sand, well I feel it again now. They're powerful emotions," he added.
Assessing the Pynandi
Powerful emotions are what Paraguay's beach soccer stars will be feeling when they get their World Cup underway against Japan in a packed arena on 21 November.
"Initially they could find it a little tough because of how much the home fans will be urging them on, but they're going to have to deal with that pressure because in beach soccer you have to be more patient and smarter," explained the 47-year-old former midfielder.
So what advice would he give the Pynandi (the word means 'barefoot' in Guarani) players? "Enjoy it: you're going to experience a World Cup on home soil!" he said with a hint of envy.
|v Japan||21 November||21:00 (local)|
|v Switzerland||23 November||21:00 (local)|
|v USA||25 November||21:00 (local)|
"It's a game and they need to have fun, notwithstanding their responsibility and that of our federation, which has put in a huge effort and has been entrusted with hosting the first Beach Soccer World Cup in a landlocked country."
Acuna is ideally placed to assess the team’s chances, having spent many hours with several of the players who will be representing Paraguay at the World Cup. "Their dream is to win their tournament and, while that’s a tall order, they will be in contention."
For El Toro, "the support of the public will be very important" in bolstering the team’s chances, although he called on Paraguayans to come out and enjoy the games of all the participating teams.
"It’s going to be a great show – the kind of spectacle you just don’t get in normal football. It's fun, there will be music, and of course the kind of acrobatic moves you don’t see very often. As I said, people will be surprised at the skill of these players, so I invite you to come along to encourage them and support the tournament."
Reserve your ticket!
Fans can now request tickets via fifa.com/tickets to the upcoming FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019™. Entry into the brand new beach soccer stadium in Asuncion is free of charge, although fans need to either register for tickets online or pick them up in person.
To request tickets online, fans must visit fifa.com/tickets. Once they have registered for the dates of their choice, successful applicants will receive an email notifying them when their tickets will be available. Tickets may be downloaded and printed or presented on a mobile device. Alternatively, fans in Paraguay will be able to obtain their tickets in person at various locations around Asuncion in due course.