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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


A super hat-trick from James Naka wasn't enough after the Bilikiki Boys lost their final match at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup by 6-3 to Mexico.

Naka opened the scoring after just four minutes for the Solomon Islands but a storming comeback by Mexico saw Gustavo Rosales draw the 'Aztecas' level.

Mexico's attacking efforts continued to reap rewards in the second period, with strikes from Morgan Plata and again Rosales, this time from a free kick, opening up a two-goal lead.

Mexico then had keeper Miguel Estrada to thank for maintaining their advantage on several occasions, but he could do little to prevent Naka from grabbing his second to set up a thrilling last third.

It was then that Mexico came into their own with further strikes from Ricardo Villalobos, Platas and Alejandro Pozos, putting the seal on a historic 6-3 win and quarter-final qualification.

Solomon Islands coach Terrance Van Dillen was proud of his team following the loss but pleaded for the opportunity for more matches ahead of FIFA events for his squad.

"This was a great tournament for us to be part of, and we've loved being here in Rio de Janeiro.

Nowadays in beach soccer, there is less of a gap between the teams, so to compete in a competition of this quality we have to play and test ourselves more against other national teams.

I say that because we're a long way from other countries, but we're looking for ways to achieve those goals," Van Dillen said.

Mexico coach Ramon Raya was emotional at the end of a pulsating encounter.

"I've been part of a lot of important games, but today was the first time I cried at the end of football match.

There are no words to describe how I felt. We knew it was going to be a tough group but we believed we could qualify from it.

Now we should to savour this victory and then turn our thoughts to Spain," Raya said.

Bilikiki Boys goalscoring hero James Naka was generous in his appraisal of Mexico's performance but said Solomon Islands defensive frailties were exposed once again.

"Today's game was very difficult. Mexico ran a lot and performed better physically, while we committed too many mistakes that gave them goal-scoring opportunities.

This is my second World Cup and I hope to continue playing for another six years or so," Naka said.

In the other Group A match Brazil and Russia served up a Beach Soccer classic with the game going to a penalty shoot-out after the scores were tied 2-2, the host nation triumphing 5-4 on spot kicks.

The results mean Brazil and Mexico progress to the quarter finals where Mexico will face Spain and Brazil clash with Portugal in what promises to be a mouth-watering fixture.

France and Argentina will square off on Wednesday for second place in Group D and a place in the quarter-finals.

In Group C, Italy and Uruguay will fight it out separately, the former playing Senegal who have already qualified and the latter facing Japan who have been knocked out.

Source: OFC

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