The Tahiti beach soccer team is approaching the end of a marathon tour of Europe as they continue to fine-tune their preparations for September's World Cup in Papeete.
The Tiki Toa have spent the past few months in the Northern Hemisphere, chalking up a number of major victories against the likes of Austria and European League Champions, Switzerland.
The Tahiti coach, Angelo Schirinzi, who guided the Swiss to second place at the 2009 World Cup, told Vinnie Wylie the team made sure it's build-up was as thorough as possible.
ANGELO SCHRINZI: Tahiti Federation, they supported the players a lot. I was there in December for four weeks for preparation in Tahiti, then I was there in April. We played three matches against France, we won three matches, then we played, I think, in May three matches against Holland in Tahiti. We won all three matches. Then it was the plan to come to Europe. The team is here. We went to Croatia for a tournament, we won an Austrian tournament, we were in Iceland and we won a tournament in Iceland. Now the team is here. The players are playing in the Swiss league in several teams, which is important for having experience at this new sport. It's a win-win situation for the federation because players can improve here. In Europe they have a lot of experience, they can play a lot of matches, and the team will improve.
VINNIE WYLIE: Is this the busiest period of matches that some of these guys have ever played?
AS: I think this is one of the best preparations they've had in their lives, yes. Because we are working very professionally. For the last six months we trained almost every day. We played on a high level and now the (Indistinct) is at the end to maybe go to World Cup, to go to maybe quarter-finals, maybe then semi-finals and make some surprise at the World Cup. But it's still very difficult because the Tahiti players, they have not this experience like other players in Russia or in Brazil or maybe Switzerland. So it's important to play here in Europe and to make this experience.
VW: Obviously, the World Cup is in September and it's in front of Tahiti's home fans, so what are the expectations of the team going into the World Cup? What do you think you can achieve?
AS: I think we can reach a lot, 'cause the team is well-prepared. With this experience now with the three months in Europe, I think we already will make the World Cup. And, of course, my objective is to go to the quarter finals and maybe to have a surprise. But, of course, we cannot say that we want to win the World Cup. It's a dream, of course.
VW: You've been away for a long time in Europe, of course, with this preparation. For a number of these players, is this effectively their full-time job at the moment, playing for the Tiki Toa?
AS: Yes, this is a full-time job at the moment. They get off from their jobs for the last three months, so we are training every day two times. We are doing matches, we are going all over Europe to play matches and to make a professional preparation. At the end, I hope this will be paid off with good results.