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Tahiti learn of World Cup opponents

The Tiki Toa will face Nigeria, Russia and the yet-to-be-determined third-place finisher from Conmebol, the South American confederation, when the tournament take place on the golden sands of Ravenna in September.
The draw ceremony was held in the presence of Giancarlo Abete, President of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Carlo Tavecchio, Vice-President of FIGC and President of the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti (LND), and Ramiro Amarelle, MVP at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2008 in France.
FIFA ambassador for Oceania Christian Karembeu also took part in the draw and says the path to glory will be tougher than ever.
“I think it is a much stronger distribution than the previous one,” the New Caledonia-born former France international says.
“There are so many powerful teams. The Europeans are always strong and Italy, whose people I know very well, will have the extra boost of a devoted crowd to become their sixth man on the sand.
“They love this sport, they were the ones to fight to develop it and this is their chance to win and make their dream come true.”
In the 15 tournaments held so far, only three nations have won and Brazil has exerted a strong dominance. They have picked up the title 13 times and are the current champions after beating Switzerland 10-5 in the 2009 final. The other two champions are Portugal and France.
Tahiti’s Tiki Toa, which translates as Warrior Men, have avoided the heavyweights of the beach version of the game and, as they are making their debut at the event, any sort of positive result would be an historic moment.
At previous World Cups, OFC has been represented by Australia, now part of the Asian Football Confederation, and Solomon Islands. But Tahiti earned the right to represent the Pacific this time thanks to an upset win at the OFC Beach Soccer Championship in February as hosts.
The Solomon Islands’ sole succes at the last World Cup in 2009 was a 7-6 win over Uruguay while the only other OFC representatives to score wins were the Solomon line-ups of 2006 and 2008, who notched triumphs over Cameroon, 5-2, and El Salvador, 6-3, respectively.
This year’s draw was conducted by Joan Cuscó, member of the FIFA Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee, and Jaime Yarza, senior manager of Futsal and Beach Soccer Competitions at FIFA.
“Beach soccer is growing stronger around the world and the growth of participants is the best proof of that,” Cuscó says.
“The competition will be really hard-fought as all the teams are doing a great job and you cannot say who is the best. We are really excited about this upcoming edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 and we look forward to the involvement of the people in Ravenna to make it unforgettable.”
The winners and runners-up in each group will qualify for the knockout stages, with all games played on the beautiful beach of Ravenna.
Tahiti will play host to the following edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2013.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2011 groups
Italy, Iran, Senegal, Switzerland
CONMEBOL qualifier 2, El Salvador, Oman, Portugal
CONMEBOL qualifier 3, Nigeria, Russia, Tahiti
CONMEBOL qualifier 1, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine