RUSSIA ADDS AN INTERCONTINENTAL CUP TITLE TO THEIR FIFA BEACH SOCCER WORLD CUP THIS YEAR
The tenth edition of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup was held in November. Seven of the world’s top beach soccer teams landed in Dubai to beat Iran, who has held the Intercontinental throne since 2018. Japan captain Ozu Moreira, one of the world’s best players, said prior the tournament that “the Intercontinental Cup is like an intense World Cup, with top-class teams squaring off in a shorter period”.
1. Senegal 6 points
2. Portugal 6 points
3. United Arab Emirates 4 points
4. Spain 0 points
1. Russia 8 points
2. Iran 6 points
3. Paraguay 2 points
4. Japan 0 points
Russia 7-3 Portugal
In the day’s first semi-final match, the World Cup champions took on the European champions, and it did not take long for one team to put their stamp on the game. Kotenev, a relatively new recruit in Likhachev’s squad, did well to put away the opener and then Zemskov pounded in a second, seeing Russia lead at the break.
Narciso’s team talk at the break seemed to boost the Portuguese, as Andre Lourenço and Leo Martins slashed the deficit. A reaction came from Russia immediately as Paporotnyi, Kosharnyi and Zemskov made it 5-2 in just four minutes of play. Bernardo Lopes, the top scorer at the 2021 Euro Winners Cup, pulled one back before the second break, but Russia was by far the superior team.
Not only did both keepers make fine saves in the final period for Russia, but they provided goals too, as Kosharnyi hit his second of the match and Parkhomenko assisted Zemskov for the final nail in the coffin. Russia cruised into their seventh Intercontinental Cup final with a final score of 7-4.
Senegal 5-7 Iran
In the second semi-final match, the debutants Senegal met the defending champions, and it was Iran who was quicker off the mark as Mokthari smashed home midway through the first period.
They may be newcomers to the Intercontinental Cup, but the Lions of Teranga pounced into action, Diagne leading the charge with three first period goals, stunning Iran before the whistle. Raoul made it four in the second, but Mokthari and then Moradi – with a stunning mid-air volley – had the overwhelming Iranian crowd on their feet before long, cutting the score to 4-3.
Amir Akbari, who both won top scorer and broke his arm in the last edition of the Intercontinental Cup, struck with a minute of the second period left. Straight from the restart, Mokthari completed his hat-trick with an impressive acrobatic finish to give Iran the lead! Mirshekari made it 4-6, but Madione converted for Senegal with six minutes of the match left, and it looked as if the African champions might find an equaliser.
However, the final blow went to the current title defendants, as captain Ahmadzadeh netted with seconds on the clock to seal a fourth final and a third against Russia. It was the perfect send-off for Iranian talisman Peyman Hosseini and Hassan Abdollahi, who announced their retirement after the win against Senegal.
Match for the third place
Portugal 4-7 Senegal (3rd place)
Portugal’s best finish in the Intercontinental Cup was third place back in 2014, and they had the chance to match that against newcomers Senegal.
Andre Lourenço rocketed a freekick into the bottom corner midway through the opening period, but Sylla’s deflected shot straight from kick-off equalised immediately.
Best Goalkeeper nominee Al Seyni snatched the lead before the break, and Senegal dominated the second period with goals from Madione, Sylla and Diatta.
In the final section of the match, Madione starred, sealing his hat-trick and securing a third-place finish for the African champions in their debut appearance at the Intercontinental Cup.
Russia 3-2 Iran
This year’s final was a replay of the last Group B game, where the Russians edged the game by four goals to three.
These two nations had met twice before in the Intercontinental Cup final – Iran won on both occasions. However, each team had claimed three of the nine previous additions, and this time the Russians were newly-crowned world champions.
Boris Nikonorov, the winner of both the MVP and Top Scorer awards at the 2021 Mundialto de Clubes with BSC Lokomotiv, spun from an impossible position to sneak in the first goal of the final.
His strike was all that separated the sides at the break, but he was back in the second period to head in number two, and then he completed a hat-trick with an impressive bicycle kick.
Just before the second break, Mokthari gave the Iranian crowd something to scream about as they pulled an essential goal back.
Then, the number nine scored an incredible bicycle kick with just 20 seconds left on the clock. However, a frantic last-minute scramble for an equaliser was successfully defended by Russia, who held on for a record-breaking fourth Intercontinental Cup title.
Photo credit: Beach Soccer Worldwide / Manuel Queimadelos & Jose Manuel Alvarez – Quality Sport Images