The 10th edition of the beach football Mini World Cup took place in Praia da Rocha last month, drawing large crowds and live television coverage. The game, akin to five a side on sand, has grown in popularity over recent years and has now even been taken into the FIFA fold.
Of the countries that will dispute the World Cup proper in Rio de Janeiro later this year, only Japan was missing in the Algarve’s dress rehearsal with eight teams lining up in two groups.
In Group A, Portugal kicked off with a facile 7-2 success over Holland, the very talented Madjer finding the net three times. In Group B, favourites Brazil made their intentions clear, crushing Spain 8-0. Reigning world champions, France, narrowly overcame Argentina, for whom ex-Sporting star Beto Acosta made his debut, 6-5. On day two, Portugal saw off the Ukraine’s challenge 4-2, Brazil put neighbours Argentina to the sword 8-3 and France got back in the groove with a 7-2 victory over Spain. The group phase was completed with another Portuguese win, 3-1 over Uruguay, while Brazil also made it three out of three, overcoming France 7-5. Another Madjer hat-trick made Portugal’s 7-3 semifinal victory over the world champions even more emphatic as Brazil took its place in the final with an unextended 8-1 thrashing of the Ukraine. The hosts matched their South American cousins goal for goal during the first half but then Benjamin and Júnior Negão turned on the style, Brazil pulling away to take the title by a clear 9-4 margin. France won 7-6 against the Ukraine to take third place.