UAE enter Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup semi-finals after dramatic win over Japan
Hosts clinch penalty shootout at Kite Beach after getting own goal lifeline
The UAE booked their place in the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup after a dramatic win over Japan in a penalty shootout at the Kite Beach in Dubai on Thursday.
Japan led 1-0 in a closely marked game until a bizarre own goal by Matsuda Kosuke just 13 seconds from the end gave the UAE a lifeline.
Japan goalkeeper Ginoza Tomoya threw the ball to Kosuke but the midfielder somehow lobbed it back into his own net that left his teammates and technical staff bewildered.
The UAE played out the extra time before coming out on top in the shootout 2-1.
Oba Takaaki gave the Asian champions an early lead in the third period and when it looked like they had done enough to take their place in the last four, the own goal debacle happened.
UAE goalkeeper Mohammed Al Jasmi was the hero on the night after saving two penalties.
Japan took the lead from the first spot kick as Abbas Ali’s effort went wide. Al Jasmi saved the next two while Kamal Ali and Waleed Beshr were on target to send the home fans into celebration.
“We made a few mistakes in the first few games but we managed to rectify it in this match,” Al Jasmi said.
“We are glad that we could make our fans happy. We hope that they come again in big force and support us tomorrow in the semi-finals. We are now ready to face any team. Our target is to win the title.”
The UAE avenged their defeat to Japan in the Asian Beach Cup final in Thailand in March, which they lost in a shootout after a 2-2 deadlock.
“It was our turn and it was so sweet,” the UAE manager Mohamed Abbas Al Maazmi said.
“We came into this match after two close games. We lost the opener to Spain in a shootout and won against Italy in extra time. To win in a shootout over Japan was an amazing result for us.
“Credit goes to the guys who have shown great physical and mental strength in all three games going into extra time. Our boys are physically good and strong.
“It was another strong game against a team like Japan. But now, we have to quickly forget this match and focus on tomorrow’s game.”
Earlier, Italy ended their two-game losing streak by defeating Spain 8-7.
Spain had already qualified for the next round and Italy were already out of the Intercontinental Cup.
Meanwhile, defending champions Iran edged out three-time winners of the Intercontinental Cup Russia 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 3-3 deadlock in extra time to take top spot in Group B.
In the other game in the same group, Egypt outclassed winless Mexico 4-1 to finish third.
In the semi-finals on Friday, Group B leaders Iran meet UAE and Russian play Group A leaders Spain.
Updated: November 7, 2019 09:57 PM