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Beach Soccer: Sand Eagles prepare for return to world stage

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Beach Soccer: Sand Eagles prepare for return to world stage

Ahead of the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup coming up from April 27 to May 27 in Bahamas, Super Sand Eagles who did not make it to the previous two editions of the tournament, are set for their return to the world stage.

The beach soccer team of Nigeria, who are one of Africa’s representatives in this year’s tournament, fall into Group B alongside Italy, Mexico and Iran; and would begin their campaign against Italy at the National Beach Soccer Arena in Nassau on the 27th of April before battling Mexico and Iran on the 29th and 1st of May respectively.

Team captain, Isiaka Olawale, in an interview with FIFA.com published on Wednesday, admitted that “qualifying for the finals was not easy” but that the Eagles will play every match at their very best, hoping to make it to the next round.

The 33-year old, who will be making his fourth appearance at the championship since making his debut at the 2007 edition in Brazil, also admitted that they have been drawn into a tough group, but would not overestimate any of their group opponents.

“All the teams we will be facing are very, very good teams,” Olawale said.

Read Also: Nigeria draws Mexico, Italy for FIFA Beach Soccer W’Cup ’17

“However, and I say that with the utmost of respect to our opponents, we don’t have to overestimate anybody.

“We will take each match as it comes. But we will try our very best. We have to be at our best if we want to make it through to the next round. We have faced some of the teams before and we know that any team that has qualified for the World Cup deserves to be there.”

Olawale also revealed how he lured the older players to the squad to help clinch the qualification ticket for the World Cup in Bahamas, as they finished second at the 2016 Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations held in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We have not made it for the last two tournaments and being beaten in the semi-finals by Senegal in the Seychelles and missing out on qualifying for the finals in Portugal was very painful. In 2013, we were also beaten by Senegal in the last four. So we were very determined.

“For the qualifying tournament this time around, we recalled some of the older players. As captain of the team, I spoke to the players and told them this is a great opportunity. The African championships were in our country, so we had a lot of advantages.”

Ultimately, Nigeria and African champions Senegal are Africa’s representatives in this year’s tournament. While Nigeria falls into Group B alongside Italy, Mexico and Iran, Senegal is drawn in Group A alongside Ecuador, Switzerland and hosts, Bahamas.

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