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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Solomon Bilikiki ready to take on the world

Spectators at this year's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be in for a real treat over the next ten days (2-12 November), with 16 teams heading for some fast and thrilling action.

Today, Argentina will kick-off the second ever FIFA-sanctioned beach soccer tournament against newcomers Nigeria (9:40 local time/13:40 CET).

All 32 matches will be broadcast live and/or as delayed transmissions in over 150 countries across the globe. Reaching Africa, the Americas, Europe, Oceania and Asia, this number represents significant international coverage and underlines the growing importance of beach soccer.

The opening day at the Copacabana will be rounded off with a unique premiere: the "Brazilians of the South Pacific", a.k.a the Solomon Islands, will face Cameroon in their first ever match in a FIFA final competition.

"We are very excited playing our first major world event, for us it is a great honour. We already feel like winners being among the best teams of the world in beach soccer", said Solomon Islands coach Edward Omokirio, whose team was the first from the OFC other than Australia and New Zealand to qualify for a FIFA event.

Now the Bilikiki have the opportunity to showcase their potential on a global stage.

Hosts Brazil are looking to set the record straight after last year's semi-final exit. "Besides having technical level dramatically improved this year, I am really glad to see 16 teams taking part. This shows how much the sport has developed in one single year. We definitely have our minds set in conquering the title, mainly because we play at home and count on the support of the crowd, but France and Portugal are the true favourites," explained Brazil coach Alexandre Soares, whose team face the surprise third-place finishers in this year's European finals, Poland, in their opening fixture.

Defending champions France, who only scraped through the qualifying for this year's event, are back to defend their crown with a tough start on matchday two against European champions Spain. "Of course we want to win but, in first place, we want to play our best. If we give our best on the field we will have a very good chance of winning the title again. As usual, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Italy, besides ourselves, are favourites, but there is always room for a surprise," said French coach Eric Cantona confidently.

This year, for the first time, all the participating associations have taken part in official qualifying competitions in each of the six confederations, with the games being played in accordance with the new FIFA Beach Soccer Laws of the Game. The official website for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2006,, will once again offer the most extensive coverage of all the action on the Copacabana, including video highlights full of fascinating action.

Source: Oceania Football Confederation

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