Tuesday 24 August 2021, 09:30

Dmitrii Shishin: We can't let the incredible fans down

  • RFU topped Group A after thrashing Japan 7-1

  • Thursday’s quarter-final with Spain is repeat of 2013 final

  • Tahiti 2013 top scorer Dmitrii Shishin believes his side can win a third title

At the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013™, Russia downed Spain 5-1 to secure back-to-back crowns. And here in Moscow, it is once again La Roja who stand in the way of Mikhail Likhachev’s side, this time at the quarter-final stage. Tahiti 2013 was a golden moment in the career of Dmitrii Shishin. The Saratov-born forward scored in every game and claimed the adidas Golden Scorer award thanks to his 11 goals. This time around, however, the legendary marksman has yet to find the target. “I’m getting old – don’t you know!” said the 35-year-old, grinning. In actual fact, the RFU’s record goalscorer provides more assists than goals nowadays. In their last group game against Japan, the hosts finally hit their stride, with Shishin setting up two goals. “I have great memories from Tahiti 2013 – it was brilliant to be crowned world champions. Since then, my view on the game has changed perhaps. “I’ve redefined my role in the team – I may not score as many now, but I try to pass more. It’s nice to get on the score-sheet, but the main thing is that the team wins.”

Experience over speed

Self-sacrifice and adherence to the team’s ideals are just some of the hosts’ strengths. When asked who will top the RFU’s goal charts this year, Shishin responded: “For us, that’s not important. “We have one goal: to become world champions for a third time. I’ll be happy for whoever becomes top goalscorer. But, believe me, it’s of little consequence.” Shishin is one of five current squad members to have played in that 2013 final against Spain and knows how to beat them. The youngsters may well be snapping at their heels, but the experienced backbone of the side is still delivering. “In 2013, we were younger," he said. "We had the fitness and tactical nous. Now, we’re probably not as quick, but that tactical knowledge, as well as our skill, doesn’t leave you; they’re still part of our armoury. "Plus we have more experience. The younger lads have brought fresh blood into the team, but I wouldn’t say that we’re any weaker." After failing to beat USA and Paraguay in normal time in their first two matches, the hosts knew only victory would suffice in their final group game against Japan. And the team finally brought their A-game, giving their opponents no chance as they ran out 7-1 winners. “We’ve been searching for form," said Shishin, who has 230 international goals to his name. "Japan struggled to live with our tempo and we scored some lovely goals. "The sand here is unusual: it is deep and your feet sink into it, so after a couple of minutes, you’re pretty tired. Therefore, we moved the ball quickly so we could keep the tempo high."

In the quarter-final against Spain, the hosts will want to repeat the trick and maintain the energy levels that were key to beating Japan. “Spain are very strong," Shishin warned. "But let’s be honest: there aren’t any weak teams at the World Cup, and we’re aware of that. So, it doesn’t matter who we play. "Also, we can’t let the fans down because their support has been incredible. The support from the stands is driving us on. There’s a feeling that it’s only going to get better too.”