The Bahamas drops match to the FIFA All-Stars
Team Bahamas can finally look forward to some much-needed rest, after making gigantic strides in the sport of beach soccer over the past year and a half.
The Bahamas failed to make the top eight at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017, which wrapped up last evening at The Bahamas’ National Beach Soccer Arena at Malcolm Park, but there were some encouraging signs, including a comfortable win over an Ecuador team that was ranked more than 30 positions higher, and a competitive battle against a Swiss team that was top 10 in the world at the time.
The Bahamas finished off its experience at the beach soccer world cup, losing to the FIFA All-Stars, 6-3, in an exhibition match on Saturday evening. Brazil went on to win the world title on Sunday evening, defeating Tahiti in the final, and Iran outlasted Italy in the third place game.
The Bahamas came into the beach soccer world cup at number 48 in the world, according to the Beach Soccer Worldwide official rankings. They played in a group that included the sixth ranked Swiss, Senegal at number 17, and Ecuador at number 21. Team Bahamas narrowly lost to Switzerland, 3-2; were drubbed by Senegal, 10-1; and got past Ecuador, 4-1.
“It was a great experience for us,” said Team Captain Gavin Christie. “We’re going to rest a bit and then get right back on the sand. The federation has put together a very strong program. It’s just up to us now to keep this thing going. We have a lot of work to do. At this level, guys are very composed with the ball and they move the ball very well on the sand. The Bahamas has a talented team but a young one, so we have time to get it together and time to grow together. We’re looking forward to great things in the future.”
The Bahamas players were up against some of the best players in the world in the beach soccer world cup. In the match against the FIFA All-Stars alone, three of their opponents were at one point ranked the top players in the world. The Bahamas fell behind early in that match, and the all-stars staved off a late comeback. Christie likes the direction they are headed in.
“Now that we have a taste of the talent at this level, we just want it more,” he said. “The guys want to be able to play at this level, and to be at this level you have to train at this level — touching the ball and training every day on the sand, and playing high level matches at this level. With consistent hard work, we will eventually get there.”
In the end, Team Bahamas fell one goal short of making things very interesting in Group A. Had they beaten Switzerland, they would have created a bottleneck atop that group, putting three games with two victories each. Just the top two teams in each group advanced to the quarter-finals. In their build-up to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017, Team Bahamas underwent extensive preparation. The team travelled to Europe last summer, training with and playing against some of the top teams in the world. During its time overseas, The Bahamas recorded a historic victory, beating the United States, 1-0.
This past February, The Bahamas locked horns with the top teams in the region, and came away with a sixth place finish at the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Beach Soccer Championship. They qualified for the beach soccer world cup as the host nation, and will no doubt see its ranking improved after an impressive showing.
As far as the exhibition match against the FIFA All-Stars is concerned, Team Bahamas goalie Julio Jemison said that they just wanted give the fans one final thrill. It was their last time on the sand at the beach soccer world cup.
“It was a fun game. It wasn’t for any placement or anything like that, but it was a good experience,” said Jemison. “Those guys we played against are some of the best players in the world, so to come out here and give a good showing against those guys is a great feeling. I just wanted us to go out there and keep it competitive, and we were able to do that.”
The Bahamas’ top international goal scorer Lesly St. Fleur netted two of the three goals for The Bahamas in the exhibition match. Gary Joseph scored the other on an assist from St. Fleur.
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 was the first FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) global sporting event to ever be held in the Caribbean. Also, The Bahamas became the first Caribbean nation to ever win a match at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.