Russia lost to Iran in last year's final. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Hosts the UAE will meet European powerhouses Italy and Spain and Asian champions Japan in the group stages of the Ninth Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup that will be held at the Kite Beach, Jumeirah, from November 5-9.

Marking 10 years of beach soccer on Jumeirah Beach since the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in 2009, this year’s intercontinental tournament though will be denied a bit of sheen due to the absence of former three-time champions Brazil. But the week-long event still promises to be a keen tussle for honours with the presence of strong sides such as Russia and defending champions Iran, among others.

Defending champions Iran, meanwhile, will battle three-time winners Russia, Mexico and Egypt for the two semi-final spots from Group B.

Organised by the Dubai Sports Council, all matches will take place at Kite Beach every evening from November 5 to 9.

“We can be assured of a strong set of matches irrelevant of which teams are absent,” Joan Cusco, executive vice-president of Beach Soccer Worldwide, told Gulf News at the official draw ceremony on Wednesday.

Semi-finalists in the first three editions of the tournament, the UAE have found the going tough in a tournament that brings together eight of the best teams from around the globe for a thrilling showdown in Dubai every winter since 2011.

The Whites will have another tough task this year as Italy are the fourth-ranked side in the world, while Spain are not far behind at No. 7. Japan, meanwhile, defeated UAE 3-1 on penalties in the final of the 2019 AFC Beach Soccer Championships in March after the Emiratis had fought back from 2-0 down to level the scores at 2-2 in regulation time.

In reaching the final of the Asian championship, the UAE have booked their spot among the 16 teams who will be competing in the 2019 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay. Four other teams from this Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2019 — Russia, Italy, Japan and Mexico — will also be flying out to the World Cup, that is being held from November 21 to December 1.

“The Intercontinental Cup is one of the most anticipated events in beach soccer and Dubai is proud to be home of this tournament. The tournament was born here in 2011 and today teams from around the globe are clamouring to get an invite for the tournament. All the teams and players love to come here because Dubai makes them feel at home,” Saeed Hareb, general secretary of DSC, noted.

“We have witnessed some great matches over the years and amazing crowds, and I am sure the fans will witness another feast of beach soccer this November.”

The facts

What: Ninth Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup

When: November 5-9

Where: Kite Beach, Jumeirah

What: UAE, Italy, Spain and Japan in Group A. Russia, Iran, Egypt and Mexico in Group B

Entrance free for general public