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19 Feb 2017
Stage set for CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship
Sixteen teams will go head to head on the sandy shores of Nassau from tomorrow.
The CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship gets underway tomorrow (February 20th) in Nassau as the nations of North and Central America meet to battle for the continental title at the Malcolm Park Beach Soccer Facility.
As well as CONCACAF supremacy, there’s the small matter of FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup spots at stake, with two nations able to join hosts Bahamas at the showpiece event in April and May.
The two highest-finishing nations at the competition will return to Nassau later this year to represent CONCACAF along with the Bahamas, and the home nation’s coach Alexandre Soares hopes his side can play without pressure this week.
“It’s less pressure, but the team are still playing in their house,” the four-time FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup winner told Beach Soccer Worldwide ahead of his side’s final training session on Sunday evening.
“They will have friends and family here so that’s a different type of pressure and of course we’re playing big teams in big matches so that is also a kind of pressure too.
“But the preparations have gone very well, the team are doing good, I’ve been with them two months now and in the first month we trained twice a day - 6.30 in the morning and 6.30 in the evening - then in the last few weeks just once in the evening. We’re on track.”
The hosts have been handed a tricky group, sitting in Group A alongside Jamaica, Belize and Guyana - the latter making their country’s first appearance in the finals of a CONCACAF tournament.
Group B consists of three-time winners and defending champions Mexico, 2006 runners-up Canada, Guadeloupe and Barbados. The USA - ranked third in CONCACAF - will hope to avoid any upsets when they take on Trinidad and Tobago, US Virgin Islands and Antigua and Barbuda in Group C while two of the confederation’s big hitters meet in Group D.
El Salvador and Costa Rica are ranked second and fourth for the region within the overall world rankings and will be heavy favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, although Panama and Turks and Caicos Islands will surely relish the challenge of springing an upset.
Action gets underway with Barbados versus Canada on Monday at 13.45 local time, with the action running right the way through to the final on Sunday, February 26th at 20.00.