By James Agberebi:
Organisers of the 2017 COPA Lagos on Tuesday officially unveiled the Gidi Sharks who will compete in this year’s edition for the first time ever.
The unveiling of the Gidi Sharks was done at Barracuda Beach, Ajah, Lagos, where the team has been training ahead of the COPA Lagos.
After a series of screening exercises , 11 players were picked by coach of the team Angelo Schirinzi who is the current head coach of the Switzerland national beach soccer team.
The players were picked from different locations in Lagos. The locations are Badagry, Ojo, Takwa Bay among others.
They will kick off their campaign against Pepsi Fotball Academy on Friday, which is the opening day of the tournament.
Their next game comes up on Saturday against Kebbi Beach Soccer Club before rounding off on Sunday with a game against Arsenal Beach Soccer Club.
In a chat with Complete Sports at the unveiling, Gidi Sharks coach Schirinzi, 45, who led Switzerland to a quarter-final place at this year’s Beach Soccer World Cup in Bahamas, reflected on the journey of Gidi Sharks.
He said: “I play beach soccer and I have been coach of Switzerland for 15 years. We won European league, we won European Cup, we were in the final of the World Cup in 2009. Last year we won COPA Lagos, I have a special project with Tahiti, a small Island in Oceania. In 2013 Tahiti finished fourth and in 2015 they were second in the World Cup. And also in Bahamas, Tahiti finished runners-up.
“I remember Samson Adamu, he asked me when we (Switzerland) won the COPA Lagos last year, he asked me if we could make a similar project like the one I’m doing in Tahiti and grow
up a new team, I told him of course I could. Nigeria has plenty of good technical and tactical players. So we had a fantastic project, we went to Badagry, Takwa Bay, Ojo and different locations in Lagos. Out of 100 players in each locations, I selected 10 and at the end of the week, we had 60 players, then I had to reduce it to 20.
“We have now selected the final 11 who will play COPA Lagos and they will compete with the likes of Arsenal. It will be a very difficult tournament for them because we had only seven days to prepare. But for me, it was fantastic because these young players were fully concentrated, motivated, they gave their best everyday. I am sure we will have good results not results by winning or losing but we will see a team playing beach soccer on a high level, though not on a highest level because it is clear with just seven days you cannot learn everything. But we will see a project, we will see a team who has tactical disciplne, who has technical skills and they will make a fantastic show in COPA Lagos.”
On his expectations for Gidi Sharks in the future, he said: “I think Gidi Sharks can compete at a high level because this week I saw many good things. They are working hard, they are concentrated, they are serious and every day we are improving and that makes me very happy.”
The 2017 COPA Lagos will take place at the Eko Atlantic, Lagos from Friday 8 to Sunday 10, December.
Other teams who will participate in this year’s edition are Morocco, Lebanon, Spain and the Super Sand Eagles of Nigeria.