T&T’s beach soccer team will be put to its final test before departing for its inaugural competition, the 2013 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup qualifiers for Concacaf, in Bahamas, when it hosts an all-star Brazil team at Saith Park, Chaguanas, from 8 pm, tonight.
The event, dubbed “Soca meets Samba,” will feature T&T’s top beach soccer players in action against an unofficial Brazilian outfit comprising a select group of players from beach soccer clubs within the world number-one ranked nation.
Two of the travelling players have featured in the Brazil Beach Stars team which won the third annual BagoSports Beach Soccer Championship title last year.
Former national defender Makan Hislop, who was voted most valuable player at the same tournament last year, is in the 12-man T&T squad, with another defender Ryan Augustine named as the team’s skipper.
Five of the 12 players are from Tobago, and six are current players of BagoSports, the top recognised beach soccer club in the country. Pacey Stokely Vale player Dominic McDougall will lead the forwards, with the aide of nimble playmaker Chad Appoo. Former University of South Carolina striker Hakeem King is also in the team. Back-up St Ann’s Rangers custodian Zane Coker is expected to start in goal.
The friendly will be used by head coach Alexandre Soares, a four-time Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup winner, and his assistant, former US beach soccer international Benvan Astorga, as preparation for T&T’s first official competition in beach soccer which will be held in the Bahamas from May 8-12.
T&T is pitted in a four-team group comprising the top-ranked team in Cocacaf and the defending champion Mexico, along with Canada and fellow debutant Guyana.
Eleven teams will take part in the qualifiers with the two finalists earning a spot in the World Cup, which runs from September 18-28 in Tahiti, of the Oceania confederation.
T&T squad: Zane Coker, Victor Thomas, Ryan Augustine (capt), Makan Hislop, Elijah Roberts, Shallun Bobb, Jesse Bailey, Rodney Nelson, Chad Appoo, Hakeem King, Lemuel Lyons, David McDougall.