Jun 20, 2013, 8:38 PM EST
Tahiti may have lost 10-0, but they’ve captivated the soccer community.
Despite the scoreline, both teams played with professionalism and a love for the game in mind, and the Spanish squad publicly recognized the hearts of the Tahitians.
Fernando Torres has faced criticism throughout his years at Stamford Bridge, but he was the first to acknowledge how Tahiti played the game. “All of us have become big fans of that team” said Torres after accepting his Man-of-the-Match award. “We have all had our photos taken together – it was a joy to play in that match and not just because we won so easily, but because they were sporting and despite losing they played with a smile on their faces from the first kick to the last.”
Torres continued, saying Tahiti provided an example for others to follow. “They tried to play football and although the result proved there is a massive difference between the teams, that was not the most important thing. The most important thing was it was sporting contest. A lot of other teams should follow their example.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque echoed Torres’ claims, saying the way Tahiti played is a positive sign for the sport as a whole.
“It was quite humbling to play against them,” the boss said. “They were sporting, they played really fairly and every time they got the ball they tried to attack us. They were noble opponents. Of course the gap between professional and amateur football is huge but with the respect each team showed, I think football has been strengthened today and not weakened.”
The Tahitians were mostly praised after the match for not trying to “park the bus” by shoving everyone behind the ball, but instead attempting to build attacks of their own.
Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta said that while he was disappointed with a number of the goals conceded, believes they’ve still “won a major victory by winning the hearts of the Brazilian public.”
Etaeta thinks their country is vastly improving, and is asking club teams around the world to give his players a chance so they may gain the experience necessary to qualify for a World Cup in the near future. “We are laying some foundations. We will improve if some of our players move to professional clubs overseas. Not the top clubs naturally, but if we had more professionals the game could improve at home, and who knows about the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.”
It’s a longshot, but you can’t fault the effort and the heart.
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