DUBAI // The UAE's beach soccer team lost a dramatic penalty shoot-out to Switzerland last night, after normal time ended with the Gulf side holding the much-fancied Europeans, runners-up in last November's World Cup in Dubai, 2-2. A goal-scoring return for Bakhit Saad - the former captain was making his international comeback after ending a self-imposed, seven-month retirement - was not enough to prevent the UAE losing their first match in the four-team Damascus invitational, which also features Morocco and Oman.
"We played well, but Switzerland controlled the game in extra time and we were unlucky with some shots," said Marcelo, the UAE coach. "They are an experienced team and they managed the pitch well. Penalties are a lottery, but the performance of the team was good and our system was solid." The UAE took the lead in the first period when Hashid Hussein, scored. But Stephan Meier, the prolific Swiss striker, equalised from the resulting kick-off with a long-range effort.
The powerful forward then put his side in command early in the second period, before Saad levelled matters with a well-struck effort. Neither side could convert a string of chances in the third period or extra-time. Hussain then missed the UAE's first penalty, but Meier made no mistake to secure the win. Marcelo constantly changed his line-up and, after his side's first competitive match for eight months, the coach was pleased with the way his team is performing."We're confident for [today's] game against Morocco," said the Brazilian. "They have a strong team and they like to run the ball a lot, but we have a system to cope with it. If we play well, we are easily capable of winning.
"This tournament is important to see how my players perform in different systems. I'll keep rotating my team to evaluate as many players as I can." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org