Madagascar crowned African beach soccer champion - CAF 2015 championship in Seychelles dubbed a sucess
Madagascar celebrates being crowned Africa's beach soccer champion's, their second major title in a within a week. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency )
(Seychelles News Agency) - The national beach soccer team of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar have shown that they can truly be a strong force in the sport on the African continent.
Only a week after winning the inaugural Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Beach Soccer tournament at the Seychelles national beach soccer stadium, the team went on to dethrone the defending African champion, at the 2015 Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) African beach soccer championship held over 6 days at the same venue.
Madagascar won the competition’s final match 4-3 against Senegal on Sunday. A penalty shootout was needed to decide on a winner after the score between the two sides remained tied at 1-1 after normal time and extra time played.
This is the Indian Ocean nation’s first time winning the CAF beach soccer championship, where it also finished as the only unbeaten team. On top of being declared the new African beach soccer champion, the feat has also landed the team a place in the upcoming FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be held in Portugal in July this year.
As the competition’s runner-up, three-time African champion in 2008, 2011 and 2013, Senegal, will also represent the African continent at the FIFA event.
|The competition has “proven how the level of beach soccer has improved on the African continent…” says CAF’s 1st Vice President, Seychellois Suketu Patel, who is also the President of COSAFA. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY|
In an article published on Monday by daily newspaper Seychelles Nation, Madagascar’s coach, Claude Barabé, who is a national of the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Reunion, expressed his joy at having won two consecutive tournaments.
“It might take me a few days to realise that this is not a dream,” said Barabé.
“I think this team have immense qualities and these players [Madagascar players] have given their all during this competition and for us to win it shows that Indian Ocean nations can also win the big trophies”
There were eight teams contesting the CAF tournament with Seychelles, Nigeria, Egypt and Cote D’Ivoire making up Group A while Group B comprised of Senegal Morocco, Ghana, and Madagascar.
Senegal and Madagascar reached the finals after eliminating Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire in the Semi-finals that was played on Saturday.
Final standing at the end of the competition
Winning team: Madagascar
Third place: Nigeria
Fourth place: Cote D’Ivoire
Fifth place: Morocco
Sixth place: Egypt
Seventh place: Ghana
Eight place: Seychelles
On top of coming out as the winner, Madagascar also had two of its players winning individual prizes for Best Goalkeeper and Most Valuable Player while the Best Scorer hailed from Ghana’s side.
|2015 CAF Beach Soccer Championship's Best Goalkeeper - Madagascar's Jhorialy Rafalimanana.(Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY|
|2015 CAF Beach Soccer Championship's Most Valuable Player - Madagascar's Tokinianaina Randriamampandry. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY|
|2015 CAF Beach Soccer Championship's Best Scorer - Ghana's Alexander Adjei. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY|
Following last weekend’s championship played in Seychelles CAF’s1st Vice President, Seychellois Suketu Patel, who is also the President of COSAFA said the competition has “proven how the level of beach soccer has improved on the African continent…”
“As a Seychellois I am very proud that Seychelles has been able to host such a big tournament,” Patel was quoted as saying by Seychelles Nation.
While the tournament has been dubbed a success in general with Seychelles being praised for having an impressive, newly built, beach soccer stadium, the performance of the host nation has not been the best.
It was only in 2013 that the island nation launched its first beach football league and to date several teams are actively trying to develop the sport.
For the last two tournaments, the Seychelles national beach soccer team was being coached by Bruno Malias Mendes from Brazil.
Commenting on the Seychelles national team’s performance, the Chairman of the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) Elvis Chetty was hopeful that the sport can be further developed and he told Seychelles Nation that the federation is keen on the possibility of having Bruno stay on with the team.
“We are still learning and I believe we will make a lot of progress and I have faith that we will go very far,” said Chetty.
In line with developing the sport in Seychelles, FIFA's board member, Joan Cusco, has also indicated that the World's Football governing body will be working to organise training for Seychellois referee so that they will be able to officiate at big tournaments.
|The CAF beach soccer championship generated a good crowd at the Seychelles national beach soccer stadium at Roche Caiman. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency ) Photo License: CC-BY|
Competitive beach soccer, a sport which started in Brazil, is not as popular on the African continent when compared to South America and Europe.
Brazil has in fact dominated the game in the last two decades, bagging 13 of the 17 FIFA beach soccer World Cup played so far.
The CAF beach soccer competition is held every two years to get two African teams to qualify for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, also held every two years.