UAE boss Mohamed Bashir is hopeful ring rust won’t impact his players at a new home in Business Bay when the seventh edition of the Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup kicks-off later this month.
The sandy extravaganza has developed into a landmark occasion on Dubai’s sporting calendar since its 2011 inauguration. Eight of the globe’s grandest sides – including defending event champions and 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup winners Brazil – will compete for glory once again from October 31-November 4, but for the first time the action will be away from Dubai International Marine Club.
Prior to Bashir’s revitalising appointment, the UAE limped home second last in 2016 – their worst-ever display. The Emirati was convinced a much-improved performance can be drawn out once the players get back into the swing of training, following their hiatus after May’s narrow group-stage exit at the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup.
“Inshallah, everything will come good,” he said at Tuesday’s draw in Dubai Sports Council’s headquarters. “We will start the tournament and see what happens afterwards.
“The first game is so important for the UAE. We have not played together for two or three months, so we need friendly matches to play.
“Inshallah, the UAE Football Association will sort things out. Inshallah, we can get out of the group.”
The UAE were placed into a punishing Group A. Alongside heavyweights Brazil, they will need to bypass 2015 World Cup victors Portugal and an Egypt side who finished third at the 2016 Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations.
Group B will see ex-UAE coach Guga’s Paraguay make their Dubai bow. Russia have won the Intercontinental Cup three times and Iran finished third at this year’s World Cup.
Another major talking point was the move away from DIMC. For Beach Soccer Worldwide’s vice-president Joan Cusco, this was essential to attracting both new and old fans.
He said: “We always try to bring the best and make this event bigger and bigger, stronger and stronger, every year.
“This new venue will be easier accessed by people and give them lots of new possibilities. We can show the world the Burj Khalifa and I am sure it will be a great promotion.”
Standard tickets for the tournament are to remain free of charge.
In this column, we track the best Arab football talents plying their trade in the Premier League and round-up their accomplishments every week.
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is never far from the headlines after a series of devastating displays for the Reds, and he features this week following Jurgen Klopp side’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
Meanwhile, West Brom’s Ahmed Hegazi impressed as well and Mohamed Elneny only featured for eight minutes during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Brighton.
Here’s a look at how these Arab footballers fared this weekend.
Not his best day in a Liverpool shirt, but still looked solid if unspectacular in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park.
Although his contribution was minimal against Newcastle, the Egyptian has been one of the Reds’ star players this term, scoring five goals in 10 appearances.
If the 25-year-old had a more cultured right foot then he’d have been even more impressive for for the Kop giants.
Salah switched to the left for the second-half and missed a clear cut chance in the 50th minute to put the Reds 2-1 up.
Liverpool’s next game after the international break is a crucial clash against rivals Manchester United on October 14 at Anfield. Next-up for Salah is a World Cup qualifying clash for Egypt against Congo in Alexandria.
Minutes – 83
Shots – 1
Shots on target – 0
Key Passes – 1
Passing Accuracy – 80%
Touches – 49
Passes – 35
The Egyptian seemed to relish the physical challenge against Troy Deeney as the pair battled against each other throughout the match.
He won more headers than any other player at the Hawthorns, but made two errors which could have put a different perspective on the contest.
The first: a missed header from three yards out with the Baggies trailing 0-2; and the second came in the dying moments of the game when he ducked under a free-kick.
Overall, though, the 26-year-old has been a totemic presence at the back this season for Tony Pulis’s side with commanding displays against West Ham and Arsenal.
Minutes – 90
Tackles – 0
Clearances – 10
Blocks – 2
Passing Accuracy – 61.1%
Touches – 32
Passes – 18
Aerials Won – 7
The Egyptian only featured for eight minutes during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Brighton.
After an industrious display against West Brom the previous week, it was expected the 25-year-old would start alongside Granit Xhaka or at least feature more prominently from the bench.
With the Gunners in an unassailable lead, Elneny replaced Xhaka and made nine touches during his brief spell on the field.
Minutes – 8
Shots – 0
Key Passes – 0
Passing Accuracy – 100%
Touches – 9
Passes – 7