- Brazil looking to win first championship since 2009
- Four different confederations represented in semi-finals for first time
- Italy (2008) and Tahiti (2013, 2015) aiming to reach final again
MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The remaining four teams in the Bahamas all have proud histories in the Beach Soccer World Cup. However, with the exception of Brazil, none of them have yet managed to lift the trophy.
The tournament was dominated by the Brazilians in the early days. From 2006 to 2009, A Canarinha won four straight Beach Soccer World Cups on offer. And while they have fallen short of their high expectations in recent editions, there is something different about Bahamas 2017: the Russians aren’t here.
Russia beat Brazil after extra time in the quarter-finals in 2015. Then, in 2013, Brazil fell to Spain in the last four, while Russia went on to claim the title. And in 2011, Russia beat Brazil 12-8 in the final in Italy.
Speaking of Italy, that is exactly who stands in the Brazilians’ way in the Bahamas. Led by Gabriele Gori, who is in electrifying form (on 14 goals), the Italians will pose a genuine threat.
Iran and Tahiti will contest the day’s first semi-final. The Iranians beat Switzerland in a thrilling quarter-final and, to progress further, they will need captain Mohammad Ahmadzadeh (has scored a team-leading 6 goals) and goalkeeper Peyman Hosseini to be firing on all cylinders.
They will be up against an experienced Tahiti side who spread the goals around. The Tiki Toa have made the final in the last two Beach Soccer World Cups. Will they make it three-in-a-row in the Bahamas?
Saturday 6 May
What you need to know
1. Brazil’s winning streak: The last time Brazil have lost a beach soccer match of any kind was in the quarter-final at Portugal 2015. Since then, the Brazilian are unbeaten in all competitions, with a winning streak of 32 heading in to Saturday’s big clash with Italy.
2. Gori’s place in history: Gabriele Gori has been one of the most sensational players at Bahamas 2017. The Italian forward has shown his ability to score in a variety of ways and against any team he’s faced. With 14 goals already to his name, he’s averaging over a hat-trick per game and, if he scores at least three against Brazil, he would equal the second-highest haul recorded at a single edition [Editor’s note: Portugal’s Madjer holds the record of 21 at Rio 2006]. “We know Brazil are very strong, but we are very strong, too. If we do things well, we’ll have our options,” he said after their 5-1 win over Senegal in the quarter-finals.
3. Iran aiming to make regional history: If Iran beat Tahiti in the semi-finals, they will be the first Asian side ever to reach the Beach Soccer World Cup final. Japan’s fourth-place finish in 2005 is the continent’s best result thus far.
4. Tahiti missing key player: The Tiki Toa will be without Portugal 2015 adidas Golden Ball winner Heimanu Taiarui for their semi-final due to yellow card suspension. However, the Oceanian hopefuls can take solace in the fact that four of their players have scored three or more goals this tournament: Patrick Tepa (4), Heiarii Tavanae (4), Raimana Li Fung Kuee (3) and Naea Bennett (3).
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