Saturday 08 April 2017, 13:24

Hotshot Moran hoping to fire Paraguay to new heights

  • Pedro Moran is 26 and plays for Paraguay as a pivot

  • Bahamas 2017 will be his third FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

  • He scooped the adidas Golden Boot at Portugal 2015 with eight goals

After capturing the adidas Golden Boot at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015, where he took the tournament by storm with eight goals in three games, Paraguayan Pedro Moran was flooded with offers to try his luck on the sand at club level in Europe.

However, he was also presented with the chance to play 11-a-side football professionally in Paraguay, a dream that he had all but given up on after previously failing to make the grade at the highest level both in his homeland and in Argentina.

So it was that, after a successful trial, Moran swapped the sand for the grass at Paraguayan top-flight outfit General Diaz.

"It was an opportunity to earn some money and to stay close to my family while pursuing my biggest passion, playing football," the 26-year-old – who, in addition to having an eight-year-old daughter to provide for, has long been helping to support his parents and six siblings financially – told

"But things didn't pan out the way I had expected," he said. "Instead of playing me up front, they put me in defence, and I didn't feel comfortable or happy." Having developed a taste for goals on the beach, Moran's reluctance to move into the backline – he had formerly operated as a full-back and centre-half while plying his trade as a footballer – was understandable. "It just didn't work out, but I don't regret giving it a go."

He had no qualms about returning to beach soccer and duly slotted right back in. "I was absent from the national-team set-up for almost a year, but it was as if I'd never been away. It felt good to play with my team-mates on the sand again."

Indeed, he quickly made his presence felt, again racking up eight goals in the 2017 CONMEBOL Beach Soccer Championship to finish as Paraguay's leading marksman on the road to Bahamas 2017. With their runners-up showing on home territory in Asuncion, La Albirroja** reinforced their status as South America's second powerhouse in the sport, alongside their conquerors in the final, Brazil.

Looking back, it is remarkable to think that Moran had to be asked three times before he eventually agreed to give beach soccer a shot in 2013, shortly before the qualifying tournament for the World Cup in Tahiti got underway. "I thought I wouldn't like it or wouldn't be any good, but as it turned out, the exact opposite was the case."

Sure enough, the man who once had a stint earning his keep by selling windscreen-cleaning products at a street market, and even worked as a builder for a while, washed away any doubts by scoring six times on his debut against none other than Brazil.

Just a few months later, he found himself in French Polynesia contesting his first Beach Soccer World Cup.

Though he went on to chalk up five goals in Tahiti, giving him a total tally of 13 World Cup strikes, his exploits have not been enough to prevent Paraguay from falling at the first hurdle in both of their appearances at the event. He and his compatriots are desperate to put that right this time round: "That's what we're aiming for: to get through the group stage."

Another individual accolade would also do nicely, although the pivot is mindful that he will be a marked man in the Bahamas: "Of course I'd love to win the top-scorer award again, but opponents know more about me now and it'll be tougher," he said with a chuckle.

If Moran does retain his goalscoring crown, that could even pave the way for another crack at a career in football. Nevertheless, at present he is fully focused on the task at hand on the sand: "If we have a good World Cup, who knows what the future might bring? Right now, though, beach soccer is my priority."

Paraguay's opponents in the Bahamas

  • 28/04: UAE – AFC Beach Soccer Championship runners-up

  • 30/04: Portugal – reigning world champions

  • 02/05: Panama – tournament debutants but CONCACAF champions