Dubai: The UAE joined defending champions Oman, Bahrain, Japan and Iran among the teams with an all-win record as the AFC Beach Soccer Championships kicked off in Kuala Terengganu on the eastern coast of Malaysia.
There are 12 national teams vying for one of three tickets to the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup to be held in the Bahamas later this year.
The teams have been divided into three groups, with Group A consisting of Bahrain, Iran, Afghanistan, China and hosts Malaysia, while Group B has Oman, Lebanon and Thailand and Iraq, Japan, Qatar and UAE comprise Group C.
Japan, runners-up to Oman in 2015, are looking to claim a third title following their wins in 2009 and 2011, and will have to get past the UAE in their last group C match on Wednesday. Japan have been in amazing form with their two wins against Iraq and Qatar fetching 25 goals — a 11-2 thrashing of Iraq followed by a 14-0 result against Qatar.
The UAE too have two wins from their last two matches after starting with a 6-0 win against Iraq, followed by an 8-1 result against Qatar on Tuesday.
While Group C will be decided by the Qatar versus UAE match, Group B will see the encounter between Oman and Lebanon determining the group winner. Group A too will be a tough affair with Iran and Bahrain in the fray with three wins each.