2019 AFC Beach Soccer Championship: UAE full of 'respect' for Malaysia ahead of last-eight tie

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(Twitter/@uaefa_ae).

There will be no lack of “respect” from red-hot favourites the UAE when they battle surprise-package Malaysia in the 2019 AFC Beach Soccer Championship quarter-finals, according to coach Mohamed Al Maazmi.

The south-east Asian side scraped into the last-eight from Group A because of their superior head-to-head record against hosts Thailand. They now meet continental heavyweights who were beaten in 2017’s showpiece by Iran, won all three Group B-fixtures in this edition and have earned five entries into the Beach Soccer World Cup.

“I respect this team,” said Al Maazmi about Malaysia. “They are a good team.”

“I think in the first game of the Malaysian team in this tournament they were not in form, but in the second match against Thailand which they won, Malaysia was very good, and in the third match I think they were unlucky.

“I’m very surprised by this team, they have a good tactical level and a good coach. I think tomorrow will be a strong match between my team and Malaysia, and I hope for a good performance from my players.”

Malaysia made their competition bow, as hosts, only two years ago, yet boss Mohammed Faizal So’od was confident about a landmark result.

He said: “I’m very happy, and very grateful for this opportunity to be in the knockout stage.

“We respect the UAE team, but at the same time we will try to give a good fight and get a better result. Of course, UAE is a World Cup team, and we hope gain from the experience of playing with them.

“This is the first time for us to be in the knockout stage, and this is history for us, so I hope, because of this tournament, beach soccer will be more popular in Malaysia.”

In the other side of the draw, holders Iran meet Japan and Palestine meet Lebanon.

The winner of the UAE’s tie will meet either Oman or Bahrain in Friday’s semi-finals.

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