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13 Oct 2017
Raya holds special memories ahead of Puerto Vallarta return
The Mexico coach is eager to rekindle the country's beach soccer glory days.
Mexico coach Ramon Raya is eagerly anticipating the return of top-class international beach soccer to Mexico ahead of the Visit Puerto Vallarta Cup 2017 between October 20th and 22nd, with the city holding extra special memories for the Aztec boss.
Puerto Vallarta was the setting for two of Mexico's CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship wins, in 2008 and 2011, with 2017 also marking the 10th anniversary of the country's participation at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, where they reached the final in Rio de Janeiro.
The Mexicans may have lost out to hosts Brazil in 2007 but Raya is eager to get back to those levels again, off the back of a group-stage exit in The Bahamas earlier this year.
"This is where we became champions of the continent," explained the Mexico coach.
"And 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of our first participation in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, in which we surprised everyone by getting to the final against Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. This was where we became CONCACAF champions nine years ago, and that is something unforgettable."
Mexico's return to action after the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup sees them take on France, Colombia and the United States in Puerto Vallarta, with Raya opting to blood some new faces alongside his more experienced players.
"As with every time a process ends at the World Cup, the coaching staff work on the renewal of the team and incorporating players from a level that can adapt well to the team and combining that new talent with players with international experience," he added.
"We always work with the objective of being very competitive, and without doubt we will return to being like that again. We know France very well, they were world champions in 2005 and their coach [Gerard Sargent] is a man of great experience and knowledge.
"Colombia are in a stage of growth and are taking advantage of the momentum of the modality in the CONMEBOL territory while the United States are always a great rival. We have friends on the US team, but when we get to the court everything changes, and we will fight with everything to respect that rivalry."
Raya also reserved a note of praise for FEMEXFUT's involvement in the project, with the tournament seeing Mexico's Women's team taking on Spain in back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday.
"It is a great satisfaction to see how FEMEXFUT has taken the step of bringing female beach soccer into its structure, and it's also a great pride and joy to see the the greatest player in the history of this country, Maribel Domínguez, take charge of the team."
The BSWW Tour - Visit Puerto Vallarta Cup 2017 is an official competition, which forms part of the International Beach Soccer Worldwide circuit and is valid for the World Ranking (Beach Soccer Worldwide Overall World Rankings).
The event is organised by the Town Hall of Puerto Vallarta (Municipal Government) of Tourism and COMUDE with the support of the Tourism Trust of Puerto Vallarta and Beach Soccer Worldwide, and also has the support of the Mexican Federation of Football (FEMEXFUT) and CONCACAF.
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