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FIFA Beach World Cup final was Romario v Materazzi!

Updated on: 01 March,2024 09:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ashwin Ferro |

Maharashtra’s U-21 beach football team’s coach and manager soak in atmosphere at FIFA World in Dubai where Brazil beat Italy in thrilling final 6-4 as

FIFA Beach World Cup final was Romario v Materazzi!

Italy's World Cup-winner Marco Materazzi (left) and Brazil legend Romario at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai recently

While Brazil and Italy were battling it out in a thrilling final of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup on the golden sands of the Dubai District Design Stadium recently, in the stands, two legends were engaged in an emotional tussle of their own. Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winner Romario, 58, and Italy’s 2006 world champion Marco Materazzi, 50, were a bundle of nerves as the breath-taking summit clash ended 6-4 in favour of Brazil.

Preetam Mahadik and Ronald D’Souza, the coach and manager respectively, of Maharashtra’s U-21 beach soccer team that won a historic silver medal at the Diu Games last month, were among the spectators at the Dubai venue. “The final was one of the best football matches I’ve ever seen. Brazil’s Rodrigo [who scored a hat-trick in the final] was like a magician on that sand. The Italians fought hard, but the Brazilian flair was simply too hot to handle,” Mahadik told mid-day.

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Maharashtra U-21 beach soccer team coach Preetam Mahadik (left) and manager Ronald D`Souza at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai recentlyMaharashtra U-21 beach soccer team coach Preetam Mahadik (left) and manager Ronald D'Souza at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai recently

“Romario and Materazzi were in FIFA’s VIP enclosure, sitting a little apart from each other. We could see them from the adjoining stands. Before the match, they met their respective teams and happily posed for photographs together and with everyone around. But during the match, they were all intense and hardly even spoke to each other. Materazzi was up and down in his seat throughout the pulsating clash while Romario was also cheering on aggressively. We are used to seeing fans being nervous during big matches, but to see these legends like this, it just goes to show their extreme passion for the game,” said D’Souza.

Both Mahadik and D’Souza were all praise for the tournament too. “The organisers were keen to have maximum spectators, so the ticket prices were very low, starting at just 45 AED [approximately Rs 1,000],” said D’Souza.

“The whole atmosphere was like a party. There was a play area for kids, a family entertainment zone and loud music throughout,” said Mahadik.

The Mumbai Football Association is also keen on promoting beach soccer and both Mahadik and D’Souza felt that they can take a cue from this mega tournament. “In Dubai, they actually built an artificial stadium with a sand pitch for this world cup, but in Mumbai we are blessed with a natural coastline and beautiful beaches. We can do so much for beach soccer. I hope the administration does more to promote this format,” concluded D’Souza.

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