A late winner from goalkeeper Hannah Haughton clinched an opening game win for Team GB’s women’s beach soccer team as the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar, got underway yesterday.
Southampton based Haughton struck just two minutes from time in the third and final period to give Team GB a 5-4 victory over Paraguay and an opening group stage win.
The opening period was scoreless, with both teams struggling to settle into their game. However, Team GB began the second period on front foot, taking an early lead courtesy of an interception and goal from Gemma Hillier (Gosport).
Paraguay levelled but the British side took a 3-1 lead into to the first break following goals from captain Sarah Kempson (Littlehampton) and Molly Clark (Portsmouth).
Clark netted a second to give her side a 4-1 lead before the Paraguayan opponent struck back with three quick strikes, drawing the scores level before Haughton’s late heroics fired Team GB to a deserved victory.
Team GB goal scorer Hillier said: “Today’s match was tough. We knew Paraguay were going to be strong, we knew they were going to work us hard and that it was going to be a physical as well as mental game. We showed that we didn’t keep our mental game up for the entire match but in the end we came through to get the win with a great strike from the keeper.
“We can’t switch off in our next match, we went three goals up and took our foot off the gas. We need to keep on peppering the goal, keep on scoring and defend as a team.
“It is incredible to score for your country, for Great Britain. It is the best feeling in the world, let alone scoring the first goal of the Championships, I am overwhelmed.”
Captain Kempson added: “It was an interesting first game, but that is what beach soccer is all about. Being 4-1 up is where we wanted to be but we took our foot off the gas and that made us grind out today’s result.
“Our next match is against the USA and it is a night match, none of the team have experienced a night game before so we are really excited. We know (USA) are going to run us, and we just need to play our game.”
The inaugural World Beach Games take place in Doha from 12-16 October. Follow the team @TeamGB on social media and at TeamGB . You can also watch some of the live action here: https://www.awbgqatar.com/watch-live/