May 3 – With FIFA focus firmly on politics and scandal, you could be forgiven for missing the progress of the Beach Soccer Cup in the Bahamas which has now reached its quarter final stage.
The four group preliminary stage saw Brazil and Italy unbeaten with three wins each. Current World Champions Portugal are also through to the last eight but only after a pulsating extra time 2-1 win over the UAE. If the UAE had won they would have qualified and Portugal would have gone out.
Brazil now have to face Portugal in what is a battle of Beach Soccer’s traditional giant nations.
Senegal lead the African challenge and top the table of goals scored so far alongside Italy with 25. Tournament favourites brazil have scored 20.
They are joined in by Switzerland, who topped Senegal’s group, Paraguay and the only Asian qualifier Iran. The AFC was close to having all three representatives make it to the last eight but Japan, like the UAE before them, lost their final group game, in Japan’s case to a rampant Brazil.
Tahiti are once again the surprise package in qualifying. Tahiti hosted the 2013 World Cup.
Brazil won four straight Beach World Cup titles between 2006 and 2009 (Beach soccer world cups are played every two years), but as this format of the game has become more competitive, so Brazil’s dominance has been eroded.
The tournament dark horse could turn out to be AFC champions Iran. In the final round of qualifying there was joy for hosts Bahamas who completed their first World Cup final appearance with a 4-1 win over Ecuador.
Quarter finals are played tomorrow (Thursday) with semis on Saturday and the final on Sunday.
Paraguay vs Tahiti
Brazil vs Portugal
Switzerland vs Iran
Italy vs Senegal
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