Rui Delgado, Portuguese beach soccer commentator, names his '5 to watch' ahead of kick-off at the Luzhniki
A total of 16 nations will once again contend our sport’s most desirable of prizes, in the first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after the Covid-19 pandemic began. Despite the inevitable challenges, this event has the potential to be the greatest FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup of all time…
For a world-class event we require world-class players, and we have 192 of them from all over the globe. Amazing goalkeepers like Andrade (POR), Chuzkov (RUS) and Al Senyi (SEN), alongside outstanding outfield players, such as defenders Catarino (BRA), Ozu (JPN), Bruno Torres (POR) and Paparotnyi (RUS), wingers like Carballo (PAR), Riduan Dris (ESP), Waleed Beshr (UAE) and Gaston Laduche (URU), as well as attacking superstars such as Llorenç (ESP), Leo Martins (POR), Noel Ott (SUI) and Rodrigo (BRA), all of which will provide extraordinary shows and spectacles on the sand at the iconic Luzhniki Beach Soccer Stadium.
Get ready to witness the world’s most in-form strikers of the moment, like Top Scorer in the CONMEBOL Qualifier Edson Hulk (BRA), Portuguese League Top Scorer Lucão (BRA), Russian league Top Scorer Nikonorov (RUS), the MVP and Top Scorer of CAF Qualifier Nelson Manuel (MOZ), the Top Scorer of Concacaf Frank Velasquez (SLV), among many others!
So, imagine what is awaiting us in Moscow, with talent scattered across all of the national teams in the competition.
Without further ado, let me present my five attacking players who you must watch at the 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia.
The 2017 world’s best beach soccer player has returned to his peak. A key player for Kristall in retaining the European crown, also winning the MVP of the Euro Winners Cup for the fourth time, the Russian championship as well as being the Top Assister, and he still had time to help Bodon FC win the Hungarian championship, and was named the MVP of that tournament. The sand “Son Goku” proved to be extremely efficient at firing dragon balls that only stopped when they reached the back of the opponents’ nets throughout the European season.
Physically impressive and with superior technique level, together with Datinha and Rodrigo he forms arguably the most powerful offensive trio in world beach soccer right now. Deadly accuracy in freekicks, and lightning pace when cutting inside into dangerous areas, the number 11 will be one of Brazil’s most biggest strengths.
2017’s Rising Star is now a complete beach soccer player. Following in the steps of great Russian pivots, he has gathered the intelligence of Egor Shaikov, the technique of Eremeev, and the physical capacity of Peremitin all in one player. Top Scorer of the Russian Championship 2021 with Lokomotiv Moscow, Nikonorov is the ideal pivot in a 1-3-1 system.
Extremely strong, with outstanding mobility, his ability to retain the ball with his back to goal, and to assist to the wingers coming from behind will be the RFU’s firepower. The ideal example of this is the comeback of Likhachev’s side against Spain in the Regular Stage of EBSL Nazaré 2021, were Nikonorov played a key role when his side were losing 0-3. Playing at home in the Luzhniki Stadium, no doubt he will impress on the biggest stage of all.
Bê Martins (POR)
The two-time world champion and gold medallist in Minsk, Bê Martins was 2015’s Rising Star also collects individual awards like souvenirs wherever he goes. Fundamental in the wins at the Italian Cup and Super Coppa 2021 for Matteo Marucci’s Catania BS, Bê also played a decisive role in Braga’s regaining the Portuguese league this season.
A real beach soccer phenomenon, he is a light-weight player with devastating speed and a low centre of gravity that allows him to change pace in the blink of an eye. Bê is the owner of incredible ball control and technique, a player with inexhaustible resources- Whether he stays central or opens up opponent defences in the side aisles, he will be crucial to Mario Narciso in defending the world title won in Paraguay 2019.
The Swiss number eight is a beach soccer genius. EBSL Nazaré 2021 MVP, and FBSWC European Qualifier Top Scorer alongside is teammate Noel Ott, he spreads magic every time he touches the ball. Tactically Borer is extremely intelligent, he anticipates most of his opponent’s moves to give himself as much advantage as possible when finding the net.
Who doesn’t remember the blockbuster match against Poland in the EBSL, when the Swiss were losing 1-7 and Borer scored no less than five goals in their epic comeback, scoring the winner in the last seconds? If there is anything new to invent in beach soccer Borer will be on the front line. Extremely versatile whether the team goes on 1-3-1, 1-2-2 or 1-2-1-1, he will play a central role in an extremely offensive Swiss side in Russia.
Power, technique and a winning mentality. These are the main characteristics of the Spanish attacker. Winner of the Spanish league with CD Mellistar, he reached the Portuguese league final with Casa do Benfica de Loures against Braga, and was named as the MVP of the FBSWC European Qualifier, Chiky represents the changing mentality of “La Roja” promoted by Christian Mendes.
The Spanish national team returns to a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after their last appearance in 2015, and Chiky will surely feature as one of the main weapons to use in counterattacks and offensive transitions. He is a player who understands perfectly the meaning of “the attacker is the first defender”. An imposing figure, Chiky is a barrier and a real beast in recovering the ball, combined with being incredibly clinical when facing the opponent goalkeeper. We look at Chiky and we see goals.
By Rui Delgado, Portuguese beach soccer commentator