Last-minute leveller leads to penalty delight for hosts as the UAE prepare for the World Cup at Tahiti in September. Amith Passela reports.
Late show from China as hosts snatch beach soccer title from UAE
The UAE's campaign at the Asian Beach Soccer Cup ended in finals heartbreak on Sunday as they lost to hosts China on penalties after earlier conceding a last-gasp equaliser in Haiyang.
Kamali Ali saw his spot kick in the shoot-out saved to give China the title after the sides had finished 2-2 after extra time.
This had come after the Chinese had equalised with 17 seconds left of regulation time remaining through Liu Yi Si, when it had looked as if Hasan Ali's goal would be enough to give the UAE the title.
Marcelo Mendes, the UAE coach, took the positives from the event, which is a build-up to the Beach Soccer World Cup in September.
"I am disappointed we missed an opportunity because the game was in our hands," he said.
"We conceded a late goal, which was very disappointing. However, I am happy with the team's performance because we played really well and absorbed the pressure in front of more than 1,000 home fans. It was a good game but a few mistakes cost us a win. And when it went into a penalty shoot-out, it was anyone's game."
Haitham Sabah had earlier cancelled the China captain Wan Chao's early goal before the late drama, and there were no further goals in extra time or sudden death.
In the shoot-out, Chao was successful with the first spot kick for China and Saeed Yousuf was on target for the UAE. Xue Geng Han restored the lead for the host, but Kamal Ali's effort was saved by Wen Ting Yuaw, later named the goalkeeper of the tournament.
Mendes travelled with only three of the squad that played in the AFC Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier in Qatar in January.
"We have three tournaments before we embark on the Beach Soccer World Cup in September," the Brazilian said. "That was no reason to lose the final to China, because we travelled with the confidence of becoming the champions even as we were prepared to experiment with some new players. We came fully prepared for this tournament.
"But unfortunately, we couldn't achieve our objective and sometimes it is good also to make the players understand and not to commit the same mistakes in the matches ahead.
"Of course, the players learnt a great deal. This tournament was very important for the new players' learning process for some of them who were playing for the first time outside UAE. It will be important for them in the future.
"Analysing all the facts and the games, of course, we expected to win the tournament, but for the players it was a very good challenge and they deserve a better result."
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