Image Credit: DSC

Dubai: Coach Mohammad Al Mazmi is confident of taking the next step forward after the UAE finished third at the end of the inaugural Neom Beach Soccer Cup held in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

Al Mazmi’s team battled to a 2-2 at the end of regulation period to eventually win 3-2 on penalties against hosts Saudi Arabia while Oman went on to beat Egypt for the title late on Sunday.

England defeated China to take fifth place in the six-team competition held over five days at Neom, the cross-border city planned to be developed at the convergence point of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan bathed by the red sea.

“Of course, we would have loved to win this trophy as that would have been the right sort of preparation for our team for the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup,” Al Mazmi told Gulf News.

“But third place is good enough for us as we want to peak in time for the major competition at the end of the year,” he added.

The UAE will be making its sixth appearance at the global competition while joining Japan and Oman at the 10th Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup to be held in Asuncion, Paraguay from November 21 to December 1. The last five of the total 16 teams for the competition will be decided this weekend [July 27] with the conclusion of the UEFA qualifiers that are currently being held in Moscow.

“It’s a headstart for us after being among the early qualifiers. We want to make the best us of this extra period that we have,” Al Mazmi related.

The UAE has so far participated in five editions of the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup. Of the 15 matches played, the UAE has won just three without advancing to the next stage of the competition even once.

“We need to take things one step at a time. Perhaps, our first goal will be to ensure we go past the first stages of the World Cup. After that, it will be on a knockout basis and we can fancy our chances. We have a side that is both young and experienced, so we can only hope for the best,” he added.