Monday 29 July 2019, 16:33

Russia shine, Belarus secure maiden qualification

  • Russia took top spot in European qualifiers for #BeachSoccerWC

  • Belarus the tournament’s surprise qualifiers

  • Italy, Switzerland and Portugal also secured berths at Paraguay 2019

Russia were emphatic winners of the European qualifying tournament for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019, where, after missing the previous edition, they will again be among the title contenders.

The Russians, who were crowned world champions in 2011 and 2013 and finished third in 2015, dominated from start to finish in Moscow, winning the European qualifying event for the second time in four years.

Second place went to Italy, who had to work hard for some key wins, a trait that could prove invaluable at this year’s World Cup after finishing fourth in the two previous editions.

The tournament’s surprise team were Belarus, who finished third to finally qualify for the Beach Soccer World Cup at their seventh attempt. In so doing, they became the first new European side to grace the finals since the Netherlands in 2013.

Switzerland had some ups and downs of their own before prevailing in decisive moments to secure fourth place and reach their third consecutive World Cup. Yet despite that inconsistency, they possess a wonderfully versatile squad and will be among the candidates in Paraguay.

Last to book their ticket were Portugal, who defeated Spain on penalties in the match for fifth place. The Selecção das Quinas held their nerve when it was its most critical and will be aiming for a repeat of their 2015 world title triumph.

For Spain, by contrast, it was yet another frustration, with World Cup qualification eluding them for the second consecutive edition. Also disappointed were Poland, who, after qualifying for Bahamas 2017, failed to make it back-to-back appearances at the World Cup.

Russia Boris Nikonorov celebrates after qualifying for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

Russia's path

  • Won all eight of their games, all in regulation time

  • Goals: 54 for (6.75 per game) and ten against (1.25 per game)

  • Top scorers: Boris Nikonorov (8); Artur Paporotnyi and Fedor Zemskov (7)

Did you know...

  • Paraguay 2019 will be Russia’s seventh participation at the World Cup

  • Yuri Krasheninnikov was named Player of the Tournament, and Maxim Chuzhkov the Best Goalkeeper

Italy Gabriele Gore celebrates after scoring

Italy’s path

  • Won six matches, all in regulation time

  • Goals: 42 for (5.25) – 20 against (2.50)

  • Top scorers: Gabriele Gori (14); Paolo Palmaci (7)

Did you know...

  • Italy will be making their eighth appearance at the World Cup, a record only bettered by Portugal (nine) among European countries

  • They provided the tournament’s top scorer in Gori

Belarus players celebrate their qualification to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

Belarus’s path

  • Won seven games, three of them on penalties!

  • Goals: 30 for (3.75) – 20 against (2.50)

  • Top scorers: Anatoly Ryabko and Dzianis Samsonov (5)

Did you know...

  • Belarus became the tenth European nation to qualify for a Beach Soccer World Cup

Switzerland Noel Ott celebrates after scoring

Switzerland’s path

  • Won five games in regulation time

  • Goals: 39 for (4.87) – 30 against (3.75)

  • Top scorers: Philipp Borer (9) and Dejan Stankovic (7)

Did you know...

  • Switzerland lost three times during the qualifiers: twice to Belarus and once to champions Russia

  • The Swiss will be appearing at their fifth Beach Soccer World Cup

Portugal celebrate their qualification

Portugal’s path

  • Won seven games, all in regulation time, before needing penalties to see off Spain

  • Goals: 57 for (7.12) – 20 against (2.50)

  • Top scorers: Leo Martins (12), Madjer (9)

Did you know...

  • Portugal outscored their fellow World Cup finalists during qualifying

  • Paraguay 2019 will be their ninth finals appearance, the most of any European team