Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

UAE aim to take on the world after battle for Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai

Hosts want to fine-tune before heading for Fifa Beach World Cup in Paraguay

Former Real Madrid and Spain defender Michel Salgado during the draw for the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2019. Courtesy Dubai Sports Council
Former Real Madrid and Spain defender Michel Salgado during the draw for the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2019. Courtesy Dubai Sports Council

UAE manager Mohamed Abbas Al Maazmi will use the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai as an opportunity to "fine-tune" his team for the ultimate target - the Fifa Beach World Cup in Paraguay.

The hosts kick off their campaign against Spain on Tuesday in the ninth edition of the Intercontinental Cup at the Kite Beach in Jumeirah, before the World Cup starts on November 21.

“For sure, it gives us the chance to fine-tune the team before the World Cup," Al Maazmi said. "We will put all we have done in the recent past, both in competitions and training, into good use.

“Our objective, as always, is to win the Cup. We meet Spain in the first game and they are strong opponents. But if you look at the two groups, they are all strong teams. So, it will be the best team on the day.

“This tournament is the final phase of our preparation before we fly out to the World Cup and we couldn’t have wished for better timing."

The UAE are drawn in Group A and play Italy on day two and the Asian champions Japan in their final group game on Thursday.

The UAE and Japan met in the final of the 2019 AFC Beach Soccer Championships in March and Japan took the title following a 3-1 win on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

In reaching the final of the Asian championship, the UAE secured their place in the 16-team World Cup. Joining the hosts and Japan at the World Cup are three others going to Paraguay - Russia, Italy and Mexico.

Meanwhile, defending champions Iran arrive in Dubai with the mission of replicating their achievement of 12 months ago.

They in good form after claiming the bronze medal at the recent World Beach Games in Qatar. Grit, talent and perfect teamwork, plus the support of their passionate fans, give Abbas Hashempour’s team all the ingredients to mount another strong challenge in this year’s competition.

“Only the most powerful teams take part in the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, so we are fully aware of how difficult it is to prevail in such a competitive arena,” Hashempour said.

“Russia, for example, are a team that can do real harm if you are not fully focused and fight fiercely every single second of the game.

“But we are, as we have repeatedly shown, capable of winning against any team in the world. This is what we have in our minds and our hearts, and we will try our best to beat all our opponents and reach the final.”

The tough opposition will not be the only obstacle for Iran to accomplish their mission.

They will be missing one of the key players though inujury, 2018 rising star Mohammad Moradi, and some other players will be back in competition after setbacks.

It leaves a question mark over their form, but Hashempour believes their collective strength will help the team overcome their problems.

“Everyone will be expecting a lot from us, but we are determined to show everybody why we are the champions. We want to demonstrate again how powerful we are,” he said.

The Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai has become beach soccer’s most coveted prize after the World Cup and, between them Russia (2011, 2012, 2015) and Iran (2013, 2018) have won in five of the previous eight seasons. Brazil were also champions three times.

Updated: November 4, 2019 05:22 PM

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