Race to Russia is on for South American ten
• Ten CONMEBOL nations are set to go in search of Russia 2021 places • Brazil aiming to defend their continental crown • Argentina put faith in a new generation The scene is set at Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Park, with the ten CONMEBOL nations about to battle it out for three places at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™, in what promises to be an action-packed qualifying competition. FIFA.com looks ahead to the nine-day tournament. When and how? • From 26 June to 4 July at Barra de Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. • The first round features two groups of five, with Brazil and Uruguay the top seeds. • The group stage will precede a round-robin format, with the top two in each section advancing to the semi-finals. • The two finalists and the third-placed team will qualify for Russia 2021. • Group A: Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela. • Group B: Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia.
Brazil out to repeat Brazil are the undisputed kings of South American beach soccer. They have won seven of the eight CONMEBOL championships held to date, with Argentina winning the other on home sand in 2013. Coached by Gilberto Costa, the class of 2021 are out to repeat their achievement of two years ago and win the continental title in Rio de Janeiro for the second time in a row. The Brazilians boast an experienced and well-knit squad, led by the likes of five-time World Cup winner Mao, Bruno Xavier and Datinha.
Paraguay have been pushing Brazil hard in recent years, reaching three consecutive qualifying competition finals between 2013 and 2017. Los Pynandi will head into this year’s qualifiers with morale high after defeating Trinidad and Tobago in four friendlies. Their minimum aim is to qualify for Russia 2021 and improve on their World Cup performance on home sand two years ago, when they were knocked out in the group phase. The current squad contains several of the players who took part in those world finals, which they hope to have learned from. Among them are Pedro Moran and team captain Carlos Carballo, both proven performers at the highest level.
Uruguay on the prowl again Uruguay took many by surprise at Paraguay 2019. Drawn into Group B, Los Charrúas reached the knockout phase at the expense of Tahiti, one of the most successful sides in recent World Cup history. Many of the veterans of that World Cup remain in the squad, though there have been changes in the dugout, with the Uruguayan Football Association making German Parrillo its new national beach soccer team coach in late 2020. A member of the Uruguay side that finished World Cup runners-up in 2006 and third in 2007, he has been given the task of making Uruguay contenders once more on the global stage. Argentina invest in youth Argentina go into the competition with a revamped line-up, with their old guard having made way for an exciting new breed. Heading it up is Lucas Medero, who was just old enough to feature in the 2019 qualifying competition. Their goal is clear: to take Argentina back to the World Cup after failing to make the last two. Prior to that, La Albiceleste had appeared at eight consecutive world finals. The outsiders Peru were the 2019 qualifying competition’s surprise packages, just missing out on the semi-finals and finishing in a creditable fifth place. As they look to build on that performance, they are hoping to make the world finals for the first time in 17 years. Colombia and Chile both play attractive beach soccer and have the potential to spring a surprise or two and reach the World Cup for the first time in their histories.