Sport: Tahiti capable of going all the way
Tahiti are being backed to go even better at the next Beach Soccer World Cup after the Tiki Toa impressed at this year's tournament in Portugal.
An even brighter future is being tipped for Tahiti in Beach Soccer after their runners-up finish at the World Cup in Portugal.
The Tiki Toa were beaten 5-3 by the host nation in the final, an improvement on their fourth-placed finish two years ago in Papeete.
Oceania Football's Beach Soccer and Futsal Development Officer Paul Toohey told Vinnie Wylie it has been an incredible achievement.
PAUL TOOHEY: Just to make a final obviously is historic for Oceania [and] for Tahiti. They had a difficult game, they went down early but I think the important thing is they came back and they got very close. I think at 4-3 it could have been 4-4 - they missed a good opportunity there - but in the end Portugal weren't to be denied and that Portugal side there's a lot of history there. Some of those guys have been in that side for ten years and are legends of the game really. To lose the final there's no shame in that.
VINNIE WYLIE: What does this say about how good the Tiki Toa team is?
PT: It's amazing when you think they've probably only had two or three games between the last world cup and this world cup. I don't know how many games the likes of Portugal would have had but it could be as many as 20 or 30 a year. It tells you a lot about the players [and] just how good they are. Of the 12 players, maybe 10 or 11 have played international football so there's a lot of experience there and the collective spirit of the team I think is they key. What came through in the tournament is that they were the most attractive team to watch. Their skills, their attacking style is really is the hallmark of this side and I think it's something a lot of people in beach soccer have commented on. There's always the danger that you will concede but they always seem to back themselves to be able to score when they need to.
VW: This shows that it wasn't just one magical tournament on home soil - they were able to repeat it four years later on unfamiliar ground, pushing a home team to the wire?
PT: I think that was the big question going into the tournament was could Tahiti emulate or better the 2013 tournament? They were able to do it and they beat the Russians, they beat Iran, Italy [and] Paraguay - all serious teams that play a lot so definitely it shows that they've improved. The question is is what next and really I think if they can work now between the next World Cup I think they can be champions.
VW: How likely are they to be able to keep this squad, or the core of this squad, together again for another tournament and what is the next tier like?
PT: The age factor with guys like Naea Bennet,Teva Zaveroni [who are] 38, 39 - I think they can keep going with this group. Guys like Li Fung Kuee are a little bit younger, in their early thirties, so for sure they can keep going. There is a league that runs in Tahiti so there are younger players coming through but I think really the key would be to keep as much of these guys together and I think perhaps the motivation is still there. If we look around the beach soccer scene in Europe, some of the players are quite old like the players I mentioned from Portugal [who are] 38, 40 years old. There was a guy at the tournament in his mid 40s. It's one of those games where players can keep going for a bit longer.
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