Jamal Humaid tasted beach football success at the highest level with Lokomotiv Moscow. Now he is the last line of defence as the UAE kick off their 2013 Beach Soccer World Cup campaign in Tahiti.
UAE’s Humaid Jamal a safe pair of hands in goal
Humaid Jamal’s career has been colourful, to say the least, and one moment stands out for the 24-year-old goalkeeper: being part of the Lokomotiv Moscow team that won the 2012 Mundialito de Clubes, one of beach football’s biggest trophies. “Winning the Club World Cup,” he says with a smile, “is my biggest achievement.”
That pedigree makes Jamal one of the UAE’s most important players at the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup 2013, which kicks off in Tahiti on Thursday.
On Friday morning in the UAE (Thursday morning in Tahiti), Jamal will be the last line of defence as the Emiratis take on the host nation in their opening match, in Papeete. If form is any indication, the team is in safe hands.
“Our preparation over the past two months has been very strong,” said the Al Nasr goalkeeper. “We played three tournaments, in Belarus, China and Hungary and, in my opinion, we played very well and we delivered excellent results.”
Thanks in part to some brilliant performances by the man between the posts, the UAE’s results have been improving.
In the tournament in Belarus, the team finished third; in China, second; and in Budapest last month, the UAE beat the host nation in the final to win the Hungary Beach Soccer competition.
Jamal is no stranger to playing abroad, having represented the Lokomotiv Moscow team for two years, a period that culminated in the Mundialito championship last year.
The knowledge he gained playing against some of the best players in the world has him unfazed by the big occasion in Tahiti.
“Of course, I’ve gained a lot of experience playing abroad against world-class players and teams,” he said. “I played for a very strong team at a very high level and I will know a lot about the opposition players.”
At the 2012 Mundialito de Clubes in Brazil, Jamal shared goalkeeping duties with Vitali Sydorenko, who was chosen “best goalkeeper” in the tournament.
When called upon, Jamal did not disappoint, conceding only four goals and appearing in all of Lokomotiv’s matches.
The Russian team beat the Argentine outfit Boca Juniors on penalties in the quarter-finals, Sporting of Portugal 10-7 in the semi-finals, and Flamengo of Brazil 6-4 in the final, in Sao Paulo.
It was the second year in a row that Jamal and Lokomotiv had taken part in the championship and the Russian side’s final two matches proved mirror images from the previous year.
In 2011, they finished fourth after losing 5-4 in the semi-final to Sporting, and by the same score to Flamengo in the third-place playoff.
Jamal was not the only one from the current UAE squad to take part in Brazil last year.
Top scorer Ali Karim, his Al Nasr teammate, played (and scored one goal) for the American team Seattle Sounders, while Rami Al Messabi and Adel Rahu were part of the Al Ahli team that took part in the tournament.
The national team’s coach, Marcelo Mendes, may have insisted that there are no targets set beyond taking each game as it comes, but the team are united in one objective; qualification to the second round from a group that also contains Spain and the United States.
Jamal says the UAE can enter their opening match against Tahiti confidently.
“All the pressure is on them, not on us, as they are playing at home and in front of their demanding fans,” Jamal said. “Hopefully we approach the match in a relaxed mood and we can get a positive result.”