Dubai: World champions Brazil will start against Egypt, while hosts UAE will be up against former champions Portugal on the opening day of the Seventh Samsung Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup 2017 at a brand-new venue at Business Bay on October 31.
Earlier this week, organisers Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSW) finalised the fixtures after consulting broadcasters Dubai Sports Channel to ensure the event gets maximum coverage and easy accessibility for residents to attend matches at the Dubai Properties’s Business Bay site from October 31 to November 4.
In two other games slated for the opening day, three-time Dubai champions Russia will take on Mexico, while Asian champions and former winners Iran will get their campaign under way with a match against Paraguay.
Preliminary matches for the five-day tournament have been scheduled at 4.15pm, 5.30pm, 6.45pm and 8pm from October 31 until November 2. The semi-finals will be played on November 3 followed by the play-offs for positions and final on November 4.
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Government and Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the annual tournament will move to a new venue at the Dubai Properties area in Business Bay from this year.
The official draw ceremony was held at the DSC premises earlier this month with the eight invited teams from across the globe divided into two groups. Hosts UAE have been pitted alongside Brazil, Portugal and African champions Egypt, while Group B consists of former champions Iran, Mexico, Russia and Paraguay.
“It would have been nice to take on Egypt in our first match. But now it is Brazil in the first match and we’ve got to be prepared for such a huge challenge,” UAE coach Mohammad Al Mazmi told Gulf News.
“In such a competition, there are no easy or weak teams. We have to go all out for a win every time we are out there. We’ve got Portugal and Egypt and these two teams too are going to be tough,” he added.
The UAE’s best performance in the past six editions was a couple of third place back-to-back finishes in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the hosts need extra time to defeat Nigeria for third place, while a year later they stunned then European champions Switzerland 8-7 to come third best behind champions Iran and runners-up Russia.
Earlier this year, the UAE did well to advance past the group stages at the 2017 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup held in the Bahamas. The UAE beat Paraguay 3-2, drew 2-2 draw against Panama and then lost 1-2 to Portugal to miss out narrowly on a place in the quarter-finals.
“Hopefully, we have learnt from our experiences of playing against top beach soccer teams. I am confident we will be up there against the best this time too,” Al Mazmi said.
October 31: 4.15pm Egypt v Brazil; 5.30pm Portugal v UAE; 6.45pm Russia x Mexico; 8pm Iran v Paraguay
November 1: 4.15pm UAE v Egypt; 5.30pm Brazil v Portugal; 6.45pm Paraguay v Russia; 8pm Mexico v Iran
November 2: 4.15pm Mexico v Paraguay; 5.30pm Egypt v Portugal; 6.45pm UAE v Brazil; 8pm Iran v Russia
November 3: Semi-finals
November 4: Play-offs and Final