The UAE Schools and Streets Cups and UAE Girls Challenge competitions, organised by duFC, continued last weekend with the second day of group stage matches played in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
This year a record number of girls’ teams participated, one third of which are government school teams.
Charging into week two’s competition, the girls from British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) continued their winning streak, sauntering to the top of their group, while Um Al Emirate government school surprised everyone with a clean sweep of wins.
The knockout round of the Abu Dhabi leg of the UAE Girls Challenge is sure to be a heated competition.
“The duFC competition is a priority for us,” said Michael Neal, Thistle Girls’ Under-18 coach. “It’s hard to find games for our girls, and to have 14 other teams to compete against is really quite special.”
In the Schools Cup Boys U16 competition, Emirates National School surprised former duFC stalwarts International Community School, with a fast pace game ending 3-1 and sending them home top of their group.
“This is an excellent tournament with lots of participants. It’s great to see so many people out supporting the players too,” said Mrs Farida from EPS.
In other games, Al Manhal International Private School boys U16’s won three straight games.
In Al Ain, meanwhile, Gracevalley Indian School squeezed past favorites Al Dhafra Private School to the top of Group A.
In the Streets Cup Boys U14 section, FC Shadow Blazers blazed through all of their matches with a 14-point goal difference.
In the U16 group, Undefeatable Squad lived up to its name by taking all three games and leading their group, securing a place in the knockout round. Bani Yas, down one player in their final game, also secured a place in the knockout round with a 9-0 win over Nine Street.
The tournament’s scouting platform appeal was evident, both on the pitch and online. At the registration tent, players rushed to post videos of themselves and their friends on their du Talents profiles.
“Now that du’s scouting platform is online with du Talents I can upload my skills videos and have more chances of being scouted,” said a young Amer Ammar from Undefeatable Squad. “I also can’t wait to start getting tips from the LaLiga coaches through it.”
Nour Attar, from BSAK, added: “The du Talents feature is pretty cool, it’s a great way for us to build our own football community of like-minded young people.”
A new feature, du Talents is the Middle East’s first digital scouting platform where players can build their online profile and be seen by LaLiga scouts. Challenges posted on the platform gives players the chance to win cool prizes while honing specific skills designed by LaLiga scouts to test the players. It launched this month and already has over 1,000 members.
Having won the award for the Best Goal of the Year two years ago, USA captain Nick Perera has fond memories of his last experience of the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup in Dubai.
With the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2018 just a few days away, many of the event’s protagonists have been sharing words ahead of one of beach soccer’s most impressive and elite events – including Perera.
“Winning the Goal of the Year in 2016 was a very proud moment for me. I just saw the nominations for this year, and despite not being nominated I’m very excited to see who will win this year’s edition,” said the US skipper.
Following a year out of the competition in 2017, this year will be the team’s fourth appearance at the Intercontinental Cup in Dubai, spanning a seven-year period.
“This will be the third time I visit Dubai,” Perera added. “I have always enjoyed the beautiful location and the prestigious tournament. It’s a fantastic event and I’m looking forward to being part of the action once more.”
The US have been drawn in Group B, together with two former Intercontinental Cup champions, Russia and Iran, as well as runners-up of the last two World Cups, Tahiti.
Francis Farberoff’s men have some stiff competition in the group stages.
“The last time the United States were invited to Dubai, we also faced off against Iran and Russia in group play, so there is an air of deja vu,” recalls the American skipper.
But it’s clear the prospect of tough games represents an opportunity for this developing US side.
“I’m very excited for my team, and personally, to face such fantastic sides in group play; it’s in matches against top teams like Iran and Russia where we can learn the most.
“I’m confident in the mentality of our group that playing against the best in the world is a challenge we are ready for.”
Last minute preparations are taking place across the globe leading up to the tournament, which takes place from November 6-10 at Dubai’s Kite Beach.
Hosts UAE will take on familiar rivals Egypt in their opening match of the eighth Huawei Beach Soccer Intercontinental cup, taking the pitch at Kite Beach after the battle between three-time winners Brazil and debutant Spain on Tuesday, November 6.
Drawn in the same group as reigning world champions Brazil, UAE will be looking to make it past the group stages for the first time since 2013, when they finished third for the second consecutive time following a thrilling 8-7 win over Switzerland.
The Whites have not had much joy since, winning only one of their 12 matches in the following four years.
So a strong start against Egypt, who are making their fourth consecutive appearance at the tournament, will be crucial to UAE’s hopes.
The Emiratis have met Egypt twice in the Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup – in 2017 and 2015 – and have lost both matches.
The UAE will then take on Spain on the second day of the tournament before closing their group engagements against two-time defending champions Brazil, who have won the tournament in 2014 (def. Russia 3-2), 2016 (def. Iran 6-2) and 2017 (def. Portugal 2-0).
In Group B, Russia, who are level with Brazil on three Intercontinental Cup titles, will take on 2017 World Cup runners-up Tahiti in their opening match on November 6, while 2013 champions Iran will square-off against United States on the opening night.
Russia, the only side to compete in every single edition of the Intercontinental Cup along with their UAE hosts, will then meet USA on day two before taking on Iran on Thursday night, in what should be the most anticipated clash of the preliminary stages if the past between these two teams is any indication.
This year, a state-of-the art stadium on Dubai’s Kite Beach will host the Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup, which is one of the most anticipated and prestigious beach soccer competitions in the world, one that features the globe’s best teams in the beautiful and unique city of Dubai.
The tournament, which will see Huawei as the presenting partner for a second consecutive year, will take place between November 6 and 10.
The official draw for the tournament was held at the Dubai Sports Council headquarters on October 10 and the pots sent defending champions Brazil, Egypt, Spain and hosts UAE into Group A, whereas Russia, Iran, 2015 and 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup runner-ups Tahiti and USA were drawn in Group B.