National teams from Southern Africa are priming themselves to make a splash at the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal.
The tournament runs from May 23 to May 29, 2021 in the city of Saly.
Mozambique will be making their debut, and were placed in the same group as fellow Southern African side the Seychelles, as well as Egypt and Morocco when the draw was conducted last week.
Tanzania, who finished seventh in Egypt in 2018, were drawn alongside the DRC, Senegal and debutants Uganda.
Mozambique coach Abineiro Ussaca said of the opponents his men were drawn against: “Some people think it is a death group but for me, each team wants to fight to reach the final. (This) week we are going to Portugal, where we will prepare well so that in Senegal, we are going to show our real value and individual and collective capabilities.”
In Portugal, Mozambique have a 12-day camp and participate in a friendly tournament.
For their second consecutive appearance at the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, Tanzania are eyeing a place in the semi-finals.
Tanzania coach Boniface Pawasa said, “We will do our best to reach the semi-final. If there is a team that could pose threat in this tournament, it would definitely be Senegal. They are one of the strongest teams in the continent, if not the best team.
“We are ready for all the teams. It is a challenge that we accept. I fully respect all the teams and I am sure we will achieve our goals.”
Pawasa also spoke of growing the sport.
“We need to set up a strategic youth development programme. This will give us effective weapons to succeed in our mission. We need to think about how to produce more instructors, coaches and referees so that Beach Soccer can spread across the continent.
“In Africa, we have the weapons; we have strong players but being strong is not enough. We have to give these players the chance and I think now is the time to introduce an Under-20 Beach Soccer competition. Now is also the time to kick off a club championship with eight teams as a start.”
Since the first edition in 2015, the Beach Soccer AFCON has brought together the top eight teams in the continent. This fourth edition was marked by many withdrawals during the qualifiers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Madagascar withdrew ahead of the draw, giving Seychelles the opportunity to step up.
Morocco, the DRC and Uganda benefited from the withdrawal of Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana respectively.
Mozambique and Tanzania defeated Comoros and Burundi respectively to secure their tickets for Senegal. – CAF