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The UAE’s hopes of making the semi-finals of the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup Dubai 2014 are over after Ali Naderi’s wonderstrike secured a slender 2-1 win for Iran last night.
The Princes of Persia skipper’s staggering free-kick from 20 yards provided a fitting finish to an absorbing all-Middle Eastern clash. The award of the set play was controversial, Ahmed Beshr hurdling a certain foul but being booked for diving.
Both goalkeepers excelled at Dubai International Marine Club, the Whites matching the holders throughout. The damage had already been done for coach Gustavo Henrique ‘Guga’ Zloccowick’s youthful side in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Morocco, however, with a final Group A fixture against table toppers Portugal.
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“This was two teams at the same level,” Guga said.
“Our team, of course, is young.
“The Iran team has played together for seven years but I believed we were better tactically. Iran did not believe how well we were playing.
“All match we had the control, we created so many chances.
“I am happy because the average age is so low compared to last year. These players need to play; for some it was the first time to wear the Emirates shirt.
“The project is for the next two years. There is the quality here to put the team into the top five in the world.”
Perennial thorn in the side Mohammad Ahmadzadeh, who scored the opener in Iran’s 2-1 semi-final win when the sides met last November, secured an early lead with a turn and shot into the near post.
“The hosts refused to dwell, equalising five seconds into the second period when Hassan Ali slid in to finish after Beshr’s shot was saved by the outstanding Peyman Hossieni.
“The game turned against the Whites midway through the third frame, veteran Naderi’s fearsome hit swerving past Mohamed Abdulla Al Jasmi.
The UAE threw everything they had at their opponents as they searched for a lifeline at the death. No reward followed for a fine display, pride now all there is left to play for.
In the other games from the night, five-star Bruno Xavier put on a masterclass to see Brazil surge to a 7-4 victory against winless Japan.
The midfielder proved the difference in an engrossing match, the Samba side scrapping to secure a second-successive win and semi-final qualification.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup holders Russia followed Group B rivals Brazil into the last four, courtesy of a controlled 5-1 triumph against the United States.
Mikhail Likhachev’s men coasted through courtesy of goals from Dmitry Shishin (2), Yury Krasheninnikov, Anatoliy Peremitin and Kirill Romanov.
Portugal took hold of Group A after inflicting a first defeat on Morocco by 6-4. Allied with the UAE’s defeat, it means the Atlas Lions and Iran will play out a winner-takes-all decider to secure second place at 20:00 on Thursday.