The UAE will open their Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup campaign against Portugal at the tournament’s swanky new home at Marasi Business Bay, hoping to get off to a good start as they bid to make the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time since 2013.
The annual invitation-only beach soccer extravaganza has been calling Dubai International Marine Club its home since 2013 after visiting Jumeirah Beach Residence for the inaugural edition in 2011 and Dubai Festival City the following year.
This year, the seventh edition of the tournament, which brings eight of the sport’s best teams from every continent to Dubai, will be hosted by Dubai Properties at their stunning new development Marasi Business Bay from October 31 to November 4.
Brazil, the defending champions and 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup winners, will make first use of the brand new sandy pitches when they meet Egypt in the opening match of the tournament, which has become one of the landmark events on Dubai’s glittering sporting calendar.
The hosts UAE, who lost all three of their group matches last year and finished seventh – their worst finish in six editions of the tournament – will be hoping to make amends as they take on 2015 World Cup winners Portugal in the second match of the opening day.
Drawn in a tough Group A, the Whites will face familiar foes Egypt on day two before taking on Brazil on the final day of group matches, with a knockout berth potentially at stake.
“The first match is always very important,” said Mohammad Al Mazmi, the UAE national beach soccer team coach. “It is certainly not an easy match, but you are never going to have easy matches in a tournament likes this, which brings eight of the world’s best teams together.
“Hopefully we can prepare well and make a good start,” added Al Mazmi, whose team have not played competitively since their group-exit from the 2017 World Cup, which was held in the Bahamas in May.
The UAE lost 1-2 to Portugal in their third and final group match at the World Cup to narrowly miss out on a quarterfinal spot.
“A good start will boost the players’ confidence and we can then carry that momentum. So our focus will be on the first match. We have not played for a few months and it will be important to play a lot of friendly matches before we take on Portugal.
“Insha’Allah everything will be good and we will make our fans proud by reaching the knockout stages.”
Iran, the 2016 runners-up and 2013 champions, will open their campaign against Paraguay in day one’s final clash, taking the pitch after the opening Group B match between three-time champions Russia and Mexico.
In what should be the match of the group stages, Russia, who have reached the final in five of the six Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup, will face-off against Iran in front of potentially packed stands late on Thursday night.
Intercontinental Cup matches between those two arch-rivals in the past have always been played out in front of packed, boisterous stands.
The semi-finals are scheduled for Friday, while the final and the play-offs will take place on Saturday.
Tuesday, October 31
16:15: Egypt vs Brazil (Group A)
17:30: Portugal vs UAE (Group A)
18:45: Russia vs Mexico (Group B)
20:00: Iran vs Paraguay (Group B)
Wednesday, November 1
16:15: UAE vs Egypt (Group A)
17:30: Brazil vs Portugal (Group A)
18:45: Paraguay vs Russia (Group B)
20:00: Mexico vs Iran (Group B)
Thursday, November 2
16:15: Mexico vs Paraguay (Group B)
17:30: Egypt vs Portugal (Group A)
18:45: UAE vs Brazil (Group A)
20:00: Iran vs Russia (Group B)
The Official Draw was held on Monday in the UAE capital and host city, Abu Dhabi.
FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) unveiled the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 contenders competing in the world’s biggest club football tournament from December 6-16 in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City and Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
This December, all eyes will be on Abu Dhabi as millions around the world will be following the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017.
As the host city ramps up preparations for the 14th edition of the event the LOC is looking forward to welcoming heroes of the game as they vie for the most sought-after club in December.
H.E. Major-General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, Chairman of the Higher LOC commented, during his welcoming speech, said: “We are honoured that the UAE once again is hosting this world-renowned tournament – eight years after hosting it in 2009 and 2010. This tournament will be an extraordinary celebration of professional football, international talent and best in class skill, showcasing the great facilities, hospitality and unique culture our nation offers as a world-class sporting destination.
“As the number one sport in the world, football has the power to unite communities. Football continues to inspire our nation’s journey and we welcome the clubs and fans to the UAE this December for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017,” added Al Romaithi.
“The tournament is set to be a thrilling occasion and the draw has seen some very entertaining games to be played in both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain,” said His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee. “We are excited that the UAE has the opportunity to host such a prestigious tournament and we encourage fans to buy tickets at their earliest convenience.”
To this date four teams have qualified for this year’s edition of the competition: Auckland City FC of New Zealand (OFC Champions League winners), C.F. Pachuca of Mexico (CONCACAF Champions League winners), Real Madrid C.F. of Spain (UEFA Champions League winners) and UAE’s host team and Arabian Gulf League winner, Al Jazira FC. The winners of this year’s AFC Champions League, Copa Libertadores and CAF Champions League will be determined in November.
“I would like to thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for inviting me today. I am proud to have been selected as a Draw Assistant and we are blessed to host this tournament,” said draw assistant, Abdulrahim Jumaa.
“People can expect a lot from the tournament being hosted in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. I am sure fans will enjoy the tournament and love the UAE,” Jumaa added.
Commenting on the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017, former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre said: “It is a great opportunity for football fans to witness some of the best football talent in the world. All of the teams participating are champions. It is high quality and the fans are really in for a treat.”
With more than half of the competitors set for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 already eagerly awaiting their trip to the UAE in December, the next step on the road is the official tournament draw.
Taking place in Abu Dhabi at 12.00pm local time on Monday October 9, the draw will be streamed live on FIFA.com.
While Al Jazira Club and Auckland City FC already know they will be kicking off the seven-team competition, who the victor will meet next and the path to glory at large is set to be decided.
THE DRAW PROCESS
The opening match will be played between the aforementioned UAE champions and OFC Champions League winners.
For the second round (Matches 2 and 3) the winner will join FC Pachuca, the first-round winner, the AFC and CAF Champions League representatives in being randomly drawn as teams A, B, C and D.
Team A will face Team B, with Team C playing Team D. Both matches will be played in Abu Dhabi on 8 December.
In the semi-finals, Real Madrid CF and the Copa Libertadores winners will see their names pulled out of the hat against either the Match 2 or Match 3 winners, laying out the route to the trophy.
Beaten sides in each round will face off to contest fifth and third place respectively, with the latter match setting the stage perfectly for the final itself. The winner, earning the title of a FIFA World Champion, will be decided on December 16 in Abu Dhabi.