Beach boys depart

Australia's first-ever national beach football team is on its way to Brazil to compete at the 2005 Beach Soccer World Cup.

Australia's first-ever national beach football team is on its way to Brazil to compete at the 2005 Beach Soccer World Cup.

The tour, however, has been shrouded in controversy as no member of the new squad has any experience on sand at international level.

The Australia squad is: Andrew Crews (gk), Stacey Alogdellis (gk), Tayfun Devrimol, Vuko Tomasevic, George Souris, Darren McDonald, Steve Karavatkis, Jim Bakis, Leo Carle, Eric Anabalon, John Buonavoglia, Brad Heffernan.

Coach Adrian Santrac admits time has been against them.

"It's a matter of must, we have to adapt and we have to adapt very quickly" he said.

"We arrive on the 5th and our first game is on the 8th. It's not a lot of time to get used to conditions, but we'll be fine I think."

Australia is one of 12 team's to accept invitations for FIFA's inaugural Soccer World Cup to be played at Rio de Janeiro's world famous Copacabana beach between May 8 and 15.

But it's the timing of the world championship that doesn't sit well with some football administrators.

The 12 players selected in the squad have been drafted from the NSW Premier League just weeks out from the competition's crucial end-of-season playoffs. John Bounovoglia is one of them.

"The club weren't too happy to lose two players. But I'm sure they're very proud that we're representing our country."

Competing on the sands in Rio may come at an embarrassing cost.

Apart from selection trials at Sydney's Manly Beach earlier this year, this squad has next to no international experience.

"I'm lucky that I've got a kids sandpit at home. I've been doing alot of practice in there, taking on my kids and that. So things have been alright for me." Joked George Souris.

Australia has been drawn in Group D along with Argentina and France - two nations that enjoy regular elite competition at domestic level.

As Australia's players enter unchartered territory, they hold no fears of returning home as beach football's easybeats.

"We'd like to think that we're competitive. Our style of play, our competitive nature and the skill we have will keep us very close to the two teams we're up against." Added coach Santrac.
Source: SBS