x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Brazil victory spurs Mendes on ahead of UAE's World Cup bid

The UAE beach soccer coach warns the Brazil win will mean nothing if the national side fail to turn it on at November's Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai.

DUBAI // Marcelo Mendes, the UAE beach soccer coach, thinks the team have taken a big step forward with a friendly victory over Brazil, but has warned it will mean nothing if the national side fail to turn it on at November's Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai. The UAE team has returned from a 14-day training camp in Rio de Janeiro where they took part in a local tournament and played against the Brazilian national team, defending champions and three-time winners of the competition, in two friendlies.

In the first of those two contests the UAE stunned the hosts 2-1. They lost the second 3-0, but on that occasion both sides fielded their reserves. "This is the first time we have played against Brazil," said Mendes as he spoke about the trip to the home of beach soccer. "Now the players know how difficult it is to play against the top sides. They know what it takes to compete against such teams, or even beat them. So I think we have learnt a lot from this trip. We played some tough friendly matches and the players have surely gained some invaluable experience.

"Brazil are the No 1 team and have been for three years now. They will be the team to beat at the World Cup. They have a team who have been playing together for maybe five years now. They know how to play. They are born on the beach. It was so good to get a win against them." The UAE will square-off against the world champions once again when they travel to Portugal for a tournament next month. The hosts and Spain will be the other teams taking part.

"Portugal will be another important stop in our preparation for the World Cup," added Mendes, a Rio de Janeiro native, who has also coached the Portuguese national team. "It is a very big event. All these three teams have qualified for the World Cup. So for us this tournament will be very important because Ramadan is coming and we will have to reduce training. "The most important thing for us now is to play matches and keep the team ready for the World Cup in November. We have got four months and we have to make sure we make the best use of this time."

While the coach was delighted with the success in Brazil, he urged the team to stay focused on the World Cup, saying: "The most important results will be in November. I hope we can win all matches and competitions before then, but the most important thing for us is the World Cup." arizvi@thenational.ae