Photo: O País
Mozambique’s national Beach Soccer team was welcomed home in style at Maputo International Airport on Wednesday (02-06), after coming second in Dakar, Senegal, last Saturday, ensuring their presence at the Beach Soccer World Cup in Russia in August.
Enthusiasm, euphoria, a sense of homeland, pride of the nation – a perfect summary of the emotions evident at Maputo International Airport when Mozambique’s latest sporting heroes came home.
The Mozambican delegation was received by hundreds of people enthusiastically celebrating their achievement in Dakar and their unprecedented qualification for the World Cup.
Arriving with their medals prominent on their chests, all the members of the delegation received a bouquet of flowers, the tiredness of a long journey failing to overshadow the joy of having placed Mozambique on the world Beach Soccer map.
“The secret to this success was a lot of work. We worked hard to get here. I must say that few believed, but we always believed that we could go far,” player Júlio Manjate said.
While the AFON Beach Soccer tournament has bequeathed us good memories, the future is participation in the World Cup in Russia, next August.
“The hours we work and the games we will play at the World Cup will dictate our position. I cannot rush into talking about goals, but I can say that we are going to work hard,” Manjate added.
Believing and leaving their skin on the field were factors in how Mozambique left the Beach Soccer CAN even more highly rated, with Nelson Manuel named the competition’s best player and top scorer with ten goals.
“Since leaving home, we have always believed in a good performance for the national team. We worked, at each stage, so that the team reached the levels we wanted. We had the qualifiers, which we did very well. We did the internship in Portugal which was beneficial for the team. I think we did our best to honour our country,” Nelson Manuel said.
Concerning the individual trophies he has won, Nelson said: “First, I must thank the work of the group, because without it, it wouldn’t be possible to be named best player. The most important thing is group work. I’m pleased to have been top scorer.”
With the players lined up outside Maputo International Airport, the Permanent Secretary of the Secretariat of State for Sports, Júlio Mendes, noted that the status of African vice-champions and qualification for the World Cup were a source of pride for all Mozambicans.
Mendes also said that he would continue to follow step by step the team’s preparations for the World Cup in Russia.
Playing in the Beach Soccer World Cup is unique and a great responsibility, which is why you have to invest more even after the euphoria wears off. It’s the least the runners-up ask for. “We must give due respect to this modality, because it deserves it,” Manjate said.
National team can train in Portugal again to prepare for World Cup
The presence of the Mozambican team in Lisbon, where it was honoured after qualifying for the World Cup, was also the start of planning for their participation in the world tournament next August.
At a dinner hosted by the ambassador of national football teams in Europe, Cláudio Ventura expressed to the Secretary of State for Sport, Carlos Gilberto Mendes, and the President of the Mozambican Football Federation, Feizal Sidat, his hopes of hosting the African vice-champions in Nazaré [Portugal] in the run-up to the World Cup.
Mozambique’s national team completed a 15-day competitive internship in Nazaré in preparation for their successful Dakar African Beach Soccer Championship participation, and the next few days will be decisive in arrangements for their training going forward.
By Aristides Cavele