Leguizamon aiming to settle old score

Argentina’s Cesar Leguizamon freely admits he was happy with the draw for the group phase of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013. What particularly pleased him was the fact that his side’s opening Group B opponents are El Salvador, the very team that eliminated La Albiceleste during the group phase of Ravenna/Italy 2011.

“Whenever football gives you with the chance for revenge, you want to make the most of it,” Leguizamon told FIFA.com. “That’s especially true with this particular game, in which we really want to show all our potential. So it’s obvious we want revenge and to beat them,” added the 29-year-old wide man.

Asked how similar he thought this game might be to the 4-3 defeat suffered at the hands of the Salvadorans, the player replied: “I’m sure it will be very different as we have key players back in the current squad that weren’t at that World Cup” – a reference to the brothers Federico, Santiago and Ezequiel Hilaire, and goalkeeper Marcelo Salgueiro. “We’re a more complete side today than we were two years ago,” he added.

For the wing player, the return of these veterans means he too is obliged to perform. “The fact that they’re top-class players means that those of who get less playing time have no option but to be at our best. No one can take their foot off the pedal. I think we’ll head into our opening game at the peak of our powers,” he explained.

Reputation to live up toAs it happens, Leguizamon wears the No10, a shirt number that’s highly symbolic in Argentinian football. He could scarcely have imagined this when he was just establishing himself in the San Lorenzo youth teams back in 2007.

However, it was around that time that his friend Gustavo Casado, who himself appeared at five FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups with La Albiceleste, convinced him to try his luck on sand. “The transition wasn’t too difficult as I had a futsal background and I loved the sport. I can’t see myself not being involved in beach soccer, at least in the short term,” he said.

For many observers, this slightly built but courageous attacker will be asked to fill the void when the more experienced members of the squad step aside. “I think that’s something that will depend on our results but, if I’m given that role, I’ll try to do it as best I can. It’s not something that scares me,” says Legui, as his fellow squad members joke and sing together after finishing training.

Unprompted, the player goes on to say: “It’s a very good group and what you saw there is just another demonstration of that. We’re united and that will be evident on the pitch. There’s a vibe about this group that’s contagious.” So much so, in fact, that the player can’t wait to join his team-mates in their singsong.

As well as El Salvador, Argentina will be sharing Group B with Solomon Islands and the Netherlands – all rivals he respects but does not fear. “Brazil and Russia are a notch above everyone, but from what I’ve seen of the rest, I’d say a lot will depend on how we perform. If we play well, we can beat anyone. That’s why I say that, instead of analysing our opponents, we need to focus on ourselves.”

Leguizamon ended our chat with the bold assertion that “this has to be Argentina’s World Cup”. Asked why, he said: “Here we have what are currently the 12 best Argentinian players. For that reason we need to be at our very best, as opportunities like this don’t come along every day.”