Dubai: Three-time champions Russia and two-time winners and defending champions Iran will start off as favourites as the ninth edition of the Dubai Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup gets under way at Kite Beach in Jumeirah from Tuesday.
Hosts the UAE will be joined by reigning Asian champions Japan and European challengers Italy and Spain in Group A, while Russia have been clubbed alongside Mexico, Egypt and Iran in Group B.
Missing this edition are three-time champions and world powerhouse Brazil as they continue preparations for the 2019 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup to be held in Asuncion, Paraguay, from November 19-December 1.
“It’s not so much of a concern to us because we can be assured of some close matches between all eight teams who have made it to Dubai this year,” Joan Cusco, Executive vice-president, Beach Soccer World Wide (BSWW), told Gulf News.
“We are nearly done with all arrangements at the venue. Now it is time for the spectators and fans to turn up at Kite Beach and enjoy five days of fun for the entire family.”
The first three days of the competition will see group matches taking place, after which the semi-finals will be contested on Friday followed by the final on Saturday. The matches will be held from 4.15pm on all days with the opening match pitting Japan with Italy followed by the home team playing Spain.
Tuesday: Japan v Italy, Spain v UAE, Egypt v Russia, Iran v Mexico
Wednesday: Japan v Spain, UAE v Italy, Russia v Mexico, Iran v Egypt
Thursday: Italy v Spain, Mexico v Egypt, UAE v Japan, Russia v Iran
Friday: Semi-finals and placings
Saturday: Final and placings
Matches played at 4.15pm, 5.30pm, 6.45pm and 8pm daily. Entrance for all matches is free.
Group A: UAE, Japan, Italy, Spain
Group B: Russia, Iran, Mexico, Egypt