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Monday, November 05, 2007

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup - Battling Bilikiki fall short

Solomon Islands FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup dream is all but over after a 5-2 loss to European giants Russia at the Copacabana Beach Soccer Arena in Rio de Janeiro overnight.

The Bilikiki Boys needed to win the match to strengthen their chances of a quarter-final slot but were immeadiately on the backfoot with barely 16 seconds elapsed Russia were in front thanks to Ilya Leonov.

Matters didn't improve for Solomon Islands and Fred Hale was picking the ball out of the back of the net a minute later when Dmitry Shishin grabbed a second goal for the Russians.

Trailing 2-0 at the end of the 1st period, Solomon Islands goalkeeper Fred Hale became an unlikely hero when he pulled a goal back for the Bilikiki but no sooner had the deficit been reduced, Russia bounced back through Leonov.

Rustam Shakmelyan made it 4-1 for Russia before Richard Anisua (pictured below left)nabbed a second goal for Bilikiki Boys.

Fortunes did not improve for the Oceania champions and Leonov grabbed his fourth goal and Russia's fifth to complete a solid victory that sets up a fascinating final round of matches.

Russia face a must-win showdown with Brazil and hope Solomon Islands can do them a favour by beating in-form Mexico.

Bilikiki's only hope of causing a monumental upset is if they can defeat Mexico by double figures then wait and see if Brazil achieve a similar feat against Russia.

Based on results so far either scenario appears highly unlikely.

Russian coach Nikolai Pisarev was satisfied with the result.

We did much better this time than we did in our first match, but we were still very nervous. I think we were considered favorites and we are not used to being in that position; we are not experienced enough to handle that. Anyway, we won the 3 points and are now ready to face Brazil with chances to move ahead.” )

Terry Van Dillen meanwhile bemoaned his team's slow start which the amiable Kiwi believed ultimately cost Solomon Islands the match.

“We were not concentrated at the beginning of the match and allowed two goals outright. We had not played since July and came straight from Solomon Islands to play against Brazil. Obviously, it is good to be here and the boys always have something to learn from the experience of taking part in a World Cup.”

Former Nelson Suburbs and now Kossa FC defender Gideon Omokirio echoed Van Dillen's sentiments blaming a lethargic start and then pleaded with his team to raise their game another notch ahead of what will likely be their final match in Rio.

“Our team did not start well, but we worked hard and ended up fighting back. We always believed we could win the match. Next match will be our last, and we will have to go the extra mile," Omokirio said.


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