Ready to score on the beach

BEACH SOCCER

Wollongong's own Australian Beach Soccer Cup will possess an international flavour this weekend, with national teams from Thailand and China set to light up the North Beach sand.

The foreign squads have made their way to Wollongong, to battle it out with the Australian national team led by former Socceroo David Zdrilic.

Vanuatu was expected to be the fourth international outfit in the Cup, but was forced to pull out due to visa issues. Nonetheless, tournament organiser Alfredo Esteves was pleased to be able to bring international squads to Australia.

"It is a big step. I was surprised, I had interest from other national teams," Esteves said.

"It is a massive effort from a lot of people, making sure their arrival, accommodation and all the teams are well and to make sure they have a good stay in Wollongong.

"The hard part is because of the cost.

"It was a big, big effort from us and some local partners that made it possible for us to bring them over."

The Chinese squad will get straight down to business today with a warm-up match against the Wollongong Beach Soccer side.

The local team will feature in a second tournament, coinciding with the main competition, known as the Wollongong Beach Soccer Cup.

Local talent including Jacob Timpano, Ricky Zucco and Alvin Ceccoli are set to take the sand in front of what is expected to be a boisterous crowd on North Beach.

The tournament festivities will be launched tonight at the Beach Bar Novotel with the official draw party, featuring dancers, a fashion show and live music. Teams will tour the sites of Wollongong throughout today on a double-decker bus.

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