Portsmouth beach boys are ready to tackle Euro Winners Cup

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Pompey's Brett Pitman celebrates after scoring his second goal in their 2-0 win at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

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Portsmouth Beach Soccer are preparing to tackle the giants of the European game as they head to Italy for the Euro Winners Cup 2014.

The team will be England’s representatives in the competition in Catania, from June 3 to June 8.

It’s a hugely prestigious tournament, with the national champions from across Europe taking part.

Many of the world’s top players will be involved – with some clubs boosted by big financial backing to bring in top players from around the globe.

Portsmouth did not have to qualify for the competition, with their rival teams in England unable to raise the finances needed to travel to Italy.

England Beach Soccer had committed to sending a representative, so the Portsmouth side have stepped up.

They have plenty of quality players in their ranks, with many current, and recent, England internationals and will certainly not be going just to make up the numbers.

Organiser, coach and player Jamie O’Rourke feels the team have the ability to make an impact.

He said: ‘We should be strong. We are quite an experienced side and we feel we have a good chance.

‘We have three current England internationals and three who have been in the England set-up and could get back in again.’

Steve Black and Dean Blake are in the 10-strong squad for the competition.

They have both been key members of the England beach soccer side and played non-league football locally.

Portsmouth-born beach soccer ace Mark Corbett is another England player in the side.

Also included are England head coach Terry Bowes and international Mitch Day, who plays professionally in Switzerland for Grasshoppers.

Two of Day’s Swiss club-mates will be joining the Portsmouth squad for the tournament.

Portsmouth will be facing BSC Sable Dancers, from Switzerland, CS Djoker, of Moldova, and BS Bohemians 1905 from the Czech Republic in group E.

Bohemians include striker Jan Koller who is the all-time record goalscorer for the Czech Republic on grass.

He has been playing for the beach soccer side in their winter league.

But it is the Swiss team who O’Rourke feels will be the big danger in the group.

The top two progress with the two best third-placed sides also going through to the last 16.

O’Rourke added: ‘The Swiss team are all Swiss internationals. They have also got some Tahiti players who got to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

‘They will be expected to be the top team in our group.

‘Jan Koller is playing for Bohemians so he will be a bit of a handful.

‘A couple of our lads have played against him before.

‘The first goal for us is to get through the group. We have to focus on that.

‘If you can get to the last eight you are guaranteed three more games because they play to a finishing position then. That would mean we play all the way through the tournament.’

Some of the stronger clubs involved are hosts Catania, defending champions FC Lokomotiv Moscow, of Russia, Aluminios Sotelo, from Spain, BSC Kristall, the 2013 Russian champions, French outfit Marseille and Portuguese side Braga.