The UAE’s 5-2 defeat to Spain on Sunday and the home team Tahiti’s 5-3 win over the USA later have ended any hopes that the Emirates had of progressing from Group A of the 2013 Beach Soccer World Cup.
The UAE, who had lost their first match 3-2 to the host nation, needed a win to keep their hopes alive before their last match against the USA, but the defeat had left them needing an unlikely combination of results if they are to qualify.
The exit was confirmed, though, after the ‘Tiki Toa’ saw the Americans off in extra time. It also meant the USA are out of the tournament.
The day started so well with Mohamed Al Jasmi, the UAE goalkeeper, scoring a sensational volley after only three minutes. The UAE, who had started so nervously against Tahiti, looked a completely different team, noticeably stronger in the tackle and more confident on the ball.
Ali Karim, the star striker, was also more involved in the action although clear chances once again eluded him. It was Al Jasmi that continued to steal the show. After nine minutes he blocked a point blank effort from Spain striker Nico, and seconds later pulled off a superb penalty save from the same player.
The UAE continued to attack in the second period but a rare mistake by Al Jasmi proved costly, Antonio equalising after he dispossessed the UAE keeper.
The setback did not dishearten the Emirati players however, and halfway through the period Abdulhusain Kadhem could have restored the lead but hit his shot weakly at Dona in Spain’s goal.
It was all down to the last 12 minutes, and it proved to be a dramatic final period. Two minutes in came one of the moments of the match, Al Jasmi’s long throw headed on by Haitham Al Kaabi into the path of Hasan Ali whose right foot flick restored the UAE’s lead.
The last 10 minutes would prove to be UAE’s undoing – and in hindsight their exit. Raul Merida headed an equaliser on 28 minutes and the match looked to be heading for an extra period. However, a goal by Llorenc gave Spain a 3-2 lead with three minutes left. Having put up an excellent performance, the UAE players looked heartbroken and a final minute collapse saw two more goals by Cintos and Merida saw Spain run out comfortable 5-2 winners.
The scoreline was harsh on the Emirati players, but Tahiti and Spain are the two teams that progress to the quarter-finals.