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21 Jun 2017
Press conference heralds beach soccer's return to Belgrade
Ahead of the start of the Euro Beach Soccer League, some key figures met the media.
Serbia coach Dejan Knezevic, captain Nikola Cubrilovic and former Serbia football international Milos Ninkovic spoke to the media in Belgrade today ahead of Friday's Euro Beach Soccer League kick-off.
The first of the competition's five normal stages gets underway in the Serbian capital on Friday with the hosts facing Czech Republic Estonia and Norway in Division B while France, Germany, Russia and Spain battle it out in Division B.
Serbia made its first foray into beach soccer when it hosted the Euro Beach Soccer Cup last year and showed signs of promise despite defeats to strong opponents such as Hungary, Switzerland and Spain.
But, this year, on a more level playing field, coach Knezevic believes his team can shine.
Knezevic explained: "I would like to thank Milos who has agreed to support us. Also I would like to thank everyone who supported us in all possible ways.
"Last year it was very hard for us all, because we were completely new in beach soccer. We invited all the best national teams, who were much better than us.
"This year is a little different. We have Division A and Division B in which we are playing, so we have a chance of winning some games."
Captain Cubrilovic, one of those to feature last year, added: "Thanks to the media, whose help we need to promote this sport in Serbia. Beach soccer is a new sport here and I really hope it will flourish and that we will make some serious results in the coming years.
"This sport is also very, very interesting for watching, and because of that I would like to call the fans to fill the stadium and to give support to all players and countries who will participate here on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
Ninkovic, 32, who has represented Serbia as well as clubs such as Red Star Belgrade, Dynamo Kyiv and Sydney FC during his career to date, added: "I’m honoured to be here today and to be a promoter of this tournament.
"This is a great thing for our city and our people. We are a sports nation and I hope that in the upcoming years beach soccer will be much more popular here in Serbia.
"I watched some training sessions and immediately I noticed a great atmosphere among the players and a huge desire to represent Serbia in best possible way.
"Also, I would like to invite the audience to come to the stadium and to give support to our players in a quest towards achieving the best possible results, and to welcome other countries which will participate in the tournament. I must say that beach soccer is very attractive sport."
Asked whether he may take to the sand when he calls time on his career, Ninkovic added: "I'm 32 years old, and my career is coming to an end, so it is possible that in the near future I try this sport myself.
"I enquired about beach soccer in Australia. They also have national team, and it would be great for our people in Australia if we could organise some matches between Serbia and Australia."
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|SLV||8 - 4||BAH|
|USA||5 - 1||GLP|
|PAN||6 - 4||GUA|
|MEX||5 - 4||TRI|
|USA||3 - 3 (5 - 4) (PSO)||SLV|
|MEX||3 - 0||PAN|
|PAN||3 - 8||SLV|
|MEX||6 - 2||USA|