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.