"It is important for us to win," says Brazilian coach: Seychelles ready to host COSAFA and CAF beach soccer competitions
Seychelles beach soccer players during one of their training sessions at the Beach Soccer Stadium at Roche Caiman in preparation for the two international competition. (Louis Toussaint. Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national beach soccer team will be testing its ability to qualify for the FIFA beach Soccer World Cup as of tomorrow as the country hosts the inaugural Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Beach Soccer tournament.
This three-day tournament comes only a few days before the Indian Ocean island nation will be hosting the 2015 Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) African beach soccer championship which will see the two finalists qualify for the world cup to be held later this year.
For the competition which starts on Thursday, Seychelles will be joined by South Africa, Madagascar, Malawi and Mauritius and guest nation the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking to SNA through an email from the Egyptian capital, Cairo on Monday, Seychelles Football Federation’s (SFF) Chairman Elvis Chetty said SFF opted to host the COSAFA beach event “to ensure its team gets the best preparation leading up to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Championship.”
Chetty was in Cairo to attend the draw for the CAF beach soccer championship which will kick-off on Tuesday April 14.
The draw at the CAF Headquarters saw Seychelles, Nigeria, Egypt and Cote D’Ivoire ending up in Group A while Group B comprises of Senegal [defending champions], Morocco, Ghana and Madagascar.
The procedure was conducted by CAF’s Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani assisted by CAF Executive Committee member, Ahmad, who is also president of the African Beach Soccer Championship’s organizing committee.
According to Chetty, Seychelles has been drawn in a tough group but added that “they have to play against the best to become the best.”
Competitive beach soccer, a sport which started in Brazil, is not very popular on the African continent compared to South America and Europe.
It was only in 2013 that Seychelles launched its first beach football league and to date several teams are actively trying to develop the sport.
Both the COSAFA tournament and the CAF championship will be played at the newly built beach soccer stadium at Roche Caiman, not far from the Seychelles capital of Victoria.
Construction work on the stadium started in August last year.
The Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) has received the financial assistance of FIFA (the world's football governing body) and CAF to implement the project which is said to have cost between $ 1.1 to $ 1.5 million.
The Seychelles beach soccer stadium will be able to accommodate between two thousand to three thousand people and it is expected to be used not only for beach soccer matches but for other sporting events.
SNA visited the site on Monday, where workers were seen clearing and cleaning outside the new beach soccer pitch.
|Partial view of the Seychelles newly built Beach Soccer stadium at Roche Caiman. (Gilly Jean, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Asked on Monday, whether the beach football stadium will be completely ready to host Seychelles opponents as of this week, the SFF boss, Chetty, said the project is “already completed” and that contractors have been applying finishing touches to it over the last two days.
The Seychelles national beach soccer team is being coached since March 1, by Bruno Malias Mendes from Brazil, the country that has dominated the sport in recent years.
In a phone interview with SNA, Bruno said that over the past month he has seen a lot of improvement in the players adding that now they have acquired new tactics, the can read the game well and make good choices while on the pitch.
"Before I came they were training 3 times a week and now they train 12 times a week. So they will need to put into practice what they have learned and be comfortable playing in front of a large crowd," he said.
"We are ready...I am expecting good things from my players and it is important for us to win as Seychelles has never won an international game in beach football."
CAF organizes a beach soccer competition every two years to get two African teams to qualify for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, also held every two years. CAF announced that Seychelles had been successful in its bid to organize the 2015 African Beach Soccer Championship following a meeting of its executive committee late in 2013, where it had the support of one if its football veterans and former SFF chairman, Suketu Patel, who is also the 1st Vice President of CAF.
The April 14 to 19 championship in Seychelles will hence see the winning team declared African beach soccer champion on top of qualifying along with the runner-up to represent the African continent at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
Brazil have dominated the game in the last two decades, bagging 13 of the 17 World Cup to have been played so far.
With South Africa being the only COSAFA nation to have appeared at the World Cup before, in 1999 and 2005 not featuring amongst the 8 teams this year, hopes are on Seychelles and Madagascar, to try and qualify for the competition scheduled to take place in Portugal, later this year.
President of COSAFA, Seychellois Suketu Patel, said on the body’s Facebook page that the tournament which starts tomorrow is designed to give the two teams the perfect preparation for the continental finals.
The COSAFA tournament is likely to become an annual event.