THE 15 visiting teams competing in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 gave The Bahamas rave reviews after several days in Nassau preparing for the biggest beach soccer event on the globe. The teams dug their heels in the white sands of the national beach soccer arena ahead of the competition, which will see a champion crowned after nine gruelling days of play.
Iran goalkeeper Seyedpeyman Hosseinlargan said while the beauty of the island is tempting, this trip is all about business for his team.
“This is one of the most beautiful events in beach soccer and we are really glad to be here in The Bahamas,” he said through an interpreter. “The host has done a very good job. The facilities are very good. We hope that our team qualifies to the finals. We are from an Islamic country. We are not here for fun. We are here for the competition.”
However, Hosseinlargan said his team hopes to get a sunbath in the ocean following the competition.
Other teams shared similar thoughts. But it won’t be an easy road for any of them. When all teams in the competition are good, it is anyone’s game.
Ecuador player Joffre Delgado said his team knows it’ll be an uphill battle.
“We want to go all the way but we know we are facing teams that are very strong and that have wide experience but we have been training very hard.”
Polish captain Witold Ziober said his team is in great physical and mental shape, and will likely emerge as the team to beat.
The last time the Polish team made it to the World Cup was in 2006. “I think we have a very big chance,” Ziober said. “We made a very big step this year. I think the other teams are very afraid of us. We will do our best to win all the games.”
Ziober said the team may try to enjoy themselves on their one day off.
This will be the first time the World Cup was ever hosted in the Caribbean. This is also the first time many of the players visited the region.
Nigerian forward Bartholomew Ibenegbu said his team feels at home in The Bahamas.
“We have already enjoyed The Bahamas,” Ibenegbu said referring to the hospitality provided and the state of the facilities. “This is the place to stay so we are going to give positive contribution to the tournament. After the tournament, we can go to the beach. But for now, we will take it one game at a time.”
The Portugal team said its first and only objective is to win.
Meantime, the Italian team’s goal is to do better than it did in Tahiti, where the team played the 2015 World Cup.
“We were eliminated in the semi-final,” said Italian Forward Gabriele Gori. “This time we want to go all the way.”
Competition begins today at 3:30 p.m. and the opening day has all the markings of being epic. The visiting teams competition will be held at the National Beach Soccer Arena at Malcolm Park.
First up will be the strong attacking Iranian team against Mexico, which is looking to redeem itself following a 15th place in the 2015 World Cup.
At 5p.m. Ecuador will face Senegal. Just an hour and a half later, Nigeria will face Italy. The feature game of the night will see The Bahamas take on Switzerland at 8pm.