Upbeat UAE boss Mohamed Abbas is highlighting the positive of making next month’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, rather than dwelling on Saturday’s comprehensive 7-2 defeat by Iran in the final of the 2017 AFC Beach Soccer Championship.
Hopes of a third continental crown for the Whites quickly evaporated in Malaysia as defender Moslem Mesigar’s double, goalkeeper Seyed Hosseini’s fine strike and forward Mohammadali Mokhtari’s penalty made it 4-0 by the start of the second period.
UAE goalkeeper Humaid Jamal’s inch-perfect strike and defender Haitham Mohamed’s bundled effort threatened to make it uncomfortable at 4-2, before an accurate free-kick by substitute Seyed Nazem, defender Amir Akbari’s volley and a second Mokhtari spot-kick ended the rout.
Both finalists and third-place play-off winners Japan will now go to the Bahamas from April 27-May 7 for the global event.
For freshly-installed coach Abbas, he cannot wait to tackle the challenge ahead.
“This is a really good moment for the team and for me personally as this is my first time as a coach,” he said. “We had aimed to become champions but we couldn’t achieve that.
“But I am proud of my team’s attitude and achievement. Now we have to focus on the World Cup.
“We will be looking at some potential new players to join the squad and will select the best, we’ll also train more. The World Cup is the target now and we’ll try to make an impact there.”
The decision by the UAE Football Association to part ways with Brazilian supremo Guga after a dismal second-bottom finish at November’s Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup has gained instant validation.
The Whites topped Group C ahead of Japan, then edged Lebanon 2-1 on penalties after an epic 4-4 draw in the semi-finals.
That result guaranteed one of three slots for the Caribbean tournament.
There they have been drawn in Group C against Panama, reigning champions Portugal and Guga’s Paraguay. This fifth qualification has helped ease the pain after Iran – ranked 14 places above them in the world rankings in fifth – easily brushed them aside for a second AFC title.
“We were ready for this game and we knew that the UAE were tired as it was a tough semi-final game against Lebanon for them,” Team Melli Football Saheli coach Mohammad Hoseyn Mirshamsi said. “I think today’s game was easy for us.
“The most important advantage that we had over the UAE today was physical fitness.”