Green and golds face beach full of talent

BEACH SOCCER

Australian beach soccer coach Airton Andrioli is expecting tough competition when the Australian Beach Soccer Cup kicks-off on North Beach today.

The green and golds are set to fight it out with national teams from Thailand and China for the first time in the competition's history.

Andrioli's men met both squads at a tournament earlier this year and the gaffer has predicted similarly solid performances from the Asian visitors.

"We went to China to play a Six Nations tournament during the year. China ended up winning," Andrioli said.

"They are really pushing for the game to grow and like many other teams in Asia, they will be a very, very strong team.

"Thailand also took part in that tournament and they are a strong team no doubt."

Once primarily domestically focused, the 2013 Cup gives Andrioli the opportunity to test the Australian squad against international quality players for the first time in Wollongong.

He sees this as a huge plus for the growth of the game in the region.

"Obviously having some international teams coming is fantastic," Andrioli said, admitting they would have the edge on the green and golds in experience.

"It is great to see teams of that level because we haven't seen it at a high level in this country.

"I really hope this Wollongong Cup can grow and develop into something that is part of the calendar and can possibly attract more international teams."

All the action kicks off at 9am today with the Wollongong Beach Soccer Cup.

The first international game is at 10am.

Both grand finals will be played tomorrow.

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