x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Ready to kick up a sandstorm

Organisers of the Beach Soccer World Cup are confident they have the facilities in place for a world-class event.

Players from Oman and China do battle during a qualifier match at the Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.
Players from Oman and China do battle during a qualifier match at the Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.

DUBAI // Organisers of the Beach Soccer World Cup, to be held in Dubai later this month, are confident they have put in place facilities for a world-class event. The venue is being used this weekend for Asian qualifiers and tournament director Salah Tahlak is looking out for any teething problems. "These Asian qualifiers give us an opportunity to look into any last-minute snags we might face at the World Cup, in terms of technicality and facilities," he said.

"It doesn't matter how ready you are - we are still at the orange lights and want to make sure everything is in place before they turn green." The opening day of the Asian qualifiers, played on the two side stadiums, saw a fair sprinkling of crowds. Tahlak hopes the interest will grow bigger when the World Cup starts on November 16. "We have created a state-of-the-art arena. Though it is a temporary structure, it looks like a permanent site. I was in Rio and Marseille and there is no comparison between what they offered and what we have created here," said Tahlak.

"I am confident that we have thought about every requirement and it is all there now. But it is better to put things to the test and be sure." "There are other things happening around, especially at the fan zone. So the whole atmosphere is like one big party on the beach. I hope the fans will come out and enjoy that." Iran fans did enjoy their day on the beach yesterday as their team started the qualifiers with a commanding 3-1 win over Australia in Group B.

Encouraged by the performance of his side, the Iran manager Ali Reza Ali confidently predicted their triumph in the qualifiers. Faroogh Dara, Mohammad Ahmadzadeh and Farid Boulokbashi scored for the winners before a late consolation by Michael Matricciani. "We are 100 per cent sure that we will win the final and qualify for the World Cup," he said. "We did not play at our full potential in this game, but we are trying to give playing time to every player so that they are ready for the bigger matches at the World Cup."

In the second Group B match, Oman prevailed 2-1 over China with Yahya al Araimi and Mohammed Zayid on target for the 2008 Asian Beach Games champions. The UAE showed they will be a force to reckon with at the World Cup with a convincing 4-2 win over Asian No1s Japan in a friendly, while Bahrain defeated Uzbekistan 2-1 in the Group A opener. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae