It was a valiant effort for team Bahamas in their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup debut, but a late surge in the third period fell just short.
The Bahamas suffered a 3-2 loss to Switzerland in the final fixture on last night’s schedule at the National Beach Soccer Arena at Malcolm Park.
Lesly St. Fleur and team captain Gavin Christie scored goals for the Bahamas while Glen Hodel scored two for Switzerland while Noel Ott added the other.
Bahamas goalkeeper Julio Jemison delivered an inspiring performance in his first game for the national team at the senior level.
“We came out with nothing to lose, we actually came out more calm than they did. People didn’t expect us to perform that well against a team on that level, two of the best players in the world. We came in with the mindset with nothing to lose and we wanted to leave it all on the field. I think we did that today, we were just unlucky. I didn’t think we were out played; the other team was just lucky enough to get one extra goal,” he said, “All players dream for is to play at this level and playing in your home country makes it even more exciting. It was my first ever competitive game so it was definitely one to remember for me. You only get one chance to make a first impression so I just had a mindset to get out there and do all I can do, stop as much goals as I can.”
St. Fleur got the scoring started just 21 seconds into with a penalty kick that deflected off the cross bar and found the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
His second shot on goal missed just seconds later missed wide left and the Bahamas dominated time of possession early.
Switzerland’s first shot on goal, a strike from Ott, was saved by Julio Jemison, who also saved a penalty kick just moments later.
The Bahamas’ physical style of appeared to play into the hands of the Swiss team as they drew several penalties in the first thid,
Ott had his second penalty kick blocked, but he would level the score just seconds later careening a deflection to tie the score 1-1 with 6:53 left in the first.
Jemison and Swiss keeper Valentin Jaeggy each anchored their team’s defensive effort in the first third en route to a 1-1 tie.
Switzerland went ahead on a header from Hodel at the at 12’47” for a 2-1 advantage.
The Bahamas missed several scoring opportunities in the second, most notably an open-field two-on-one where St. Fleur and Gary Joseph came up empty.
Hodel’s second score, a bicycle kick which found the back of the net gave Switzerland a 3-1 lead with just under 10 minutes left to play in regulation.
Backed by an eager home crowd, the Bahamas would score a late goal in the third to pull within one.
A throw in from Jean Francois found Kyle Williams who headed the ball to, Christie, who scored with 5:43 left to play.
“The team’s performance was pretty good, we had a lot of chances at goal and at this level you have to score, you have to put away your chances and I think in the end that’s what hurts us,” Christie said, “We’re very familiar with them, we know the players, we’ve trained with them, we played against them. We knew what to expect and they’re a very good team, very technical team, so we had to play them with the high press and not give them a lot of time on the ball.”
The attention for team Bahamas now shifts to Saturday night’s matchup against Senegal, who scored a 9-0 win over Ecuador.
“It’s a totally different team so it’ll be a totally different game with different tactics,” he said, “They are a very strong team, very big team, very fast team and they had a tremendous win so they will be coming on a high looking to get another one. We will have to put in a new game plan for them.”
Swiss head coach Angelo Schirinzi said he expected a hard fought, well-played match
“Bahamas is a tough team, it was a very close game, if they mark, maybe they win, but it was the experience of Switzerland that I think made the difference. I expected them to play like this because I know them very well,” he said, “I think Senegal and Ecuador have to be very careful of this Bahamas team.”
In the opening match of the day, Iran top Mexico 3-2.
Iran goalkeeper Peyman Hosseini scored the first goal of the tournament and made a crucial save at the end of the match
Senegal looked dominant in a 9-0 win over Ecuador in the other Group A matchup.
Making their sixth tournament appearance, Senegal dominated the match from the kick-off and jumped into a 3-0 lead after the first interval.
Italy was the high scorer for the night with a 12-6 win over Nigeria in a Group B matchup.
Gabriele Gori followed his impressive scoring exploits in European qualifying with six goals.
A crowd of 3,300 was on hand for night one of the tournament.
Groups D and C will make their tournament debuts today.
Japan takes on Poland at 3:30 pm, followed by defending champions Portugal against Panama at 5 pm, Brazil against Tahiti at 6:30 and the nightcap, the United Arab Emirates against Paraguay at 8pm