The inaugural Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Beach Soccer tournament will be held in Roche Caiman, Seychelles from April 9-11 as the region’s best take to the sand with the goal of being crowned champions.
The event, which is set to become part of the annual COSAFA fixture schedule, will feature six teams, including guest nation United Arab Emirates.
Hosts Seychelles will also be joined by South Africa, Madagascar, Malawi and Mauritius over three days of competition ahead of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) championship that will be held at the same venue from April 14-19.
That eight-team CAF tournament will feature two COSAFA countries, hosts Seychelles and Madagascar, who recently ousted South Africa from the qualifiers.
Beach soccer has grown in popularity around the world, with the next FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be played in Portugal later this year.
Brazil have dominated the game in the last two decades, bagging 13 of the 17 World Cup to have been played so far.
South Africa are the only COSAFA nation to have appeared at the World Cup before, in 1999 and 2005, but Seychelles and Madagascar will hope to change that with the two finalists at the CAF Beach Soccer Championship this year earning a place in Portugal.
That is why the COSAFA event is so important in that it will give them the perfect preparation for the continental finals.
“Beach soccer has seen an explosion of interest in recent years and as COSAFA we are delighted to host our first championship in this popular form of the game. We aim to make it an annual event and help to grow the popularity of the sport to even greater heights so that we can develop talent from the region and compete on the global stage,” says Suketu Patel, President of COSAFA.
“Seychelles is the perfect host for this first tournament and will provide them with experience ahead of the CAF Championship to be held just a few days later. There can be few better settings around the world for such a tournament.”
Beach soccer is a five-a-side game, which includes a goalkeeper, with a maximum of five additional substitutes on the sidelines.
Unlike association football, teams can make as many substitutions as they like, swapping players in and out of the game at their discretion.
A match is 12 minutes long, but split into three equal four-minute periods. If the score is level after regulation time, three minutes of extra-time will be played and if still level after that, a penalty shoot-out takes place.
If a player receives a yellow card, he must spend two minutes on the sidelines before returning to the action.