Brazil, by far the most successful Beach Soccer nation in the world, Wednesday (Thursday in Africa) justified its world rating when it qualified for the semi-final of the ongoing 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Papeete, Tahiti, beating moderate Japan 4-3.
Brazil was pushed all the way before prevailing against Japan by the odd goal in seven overall to reach the semi-finals for the seventh successive time.
Japan, aiming for its first quarter-final appearance since 2005, pushed the four-time FIFA champion until the last seconds in an incredibly hard-fought contest.
In 2005, the Japanese ended in fourth place as they did in 2000 when the event was called the Beach Soccer World Championships (BSWC).
Beach Soccer joined the FIFA family only in 2005.
Brazil has won the title a record 13 times — under the BSWC (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) and under FIFA (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
The country finished runner-up in 2011, and in third-place when it first hosted the FIFA event in 2005.
However, Brazil hosted all the BSWC events from 1995 to 2004, winning all but one championship (in 2001 when Portugal prevailed and Brazil won fourth place).
The highlight of the Tahiti 2013 quarter-finals was the match between host Tahiti and Argentina, the South American champion.
The hosts made minced meat of the Argentines, walloping them 6-1 to create history as the first current Oceania nation to move into the semi-finals of a FIFA tournament.
Since Beach Soccer became a FIFA event, Argentina has never won any accolade.
Its best performances were in 1998 when it finished fourth and in 2001 when it emerged bronze medallist — both were under the BSWC organisation.
Spain, which under BSWC was twice runner-up in 2003 and 2004, finished fourth placed in 2000, but placed fourth 2008 under FIFA. It also qualified when it beat El Salvador 2-1. El Salvador’s best winning was its fourth-place finishing under FIFA in 2008.
Defending champion Russia recovered from a two-goal deficit to edge rookies Iran 6-5 and book a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup semi-final date with Tahiti.
Russia and Tahiti will now have a one-day rest before meeting on Saturday for a place in the final. The victory in 2011 in Ravenna, Italy, was Russia’s first title.
Below are the semi-final fixtures which will be played Friday (Saturday in Africa).
Spain vs Brazil.
Russia vs Tahiti.