Omani players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Neom Beach Soccer Cup final against Egypt on Saturday.
It was a day to remember for Oman, who lifted the first edition of the ground-breaking Neom Beach Soccer Cup, just a week after winning the Morocco Beach Soccer Cup.
They fought off the stubborn Egyptians in the final to clinch silverware, while the hosts missed out on third place after they were beaten from the penalty spot by UAE.
England just managed to overcome China 4-3 to end their campaign in Saudi Arabia with a win to take fifth spot.
Oman’s Sami claimed the trophy for top scorer with eight goals, while the best goalkeeper award went to the Saudi shot-stopper Mohammed, and the MVP was the Pharaohs’ number five, Moustafa Aly.
After proving worthy group winner, Oman and Egypt clashed on the Saudi sands to claim an historic prize.
As expected, the final was one of the closest matches of the tournament, with the lead changing hands several times as a team would edge ahead only to be dragged back.
It was goal-machine Sami who netted first, putting Oman, who were competing in another final just a week after they won the Morocco Beach Soccer Cup.
But the Pharaohs had a response minutes later through Karim, who levelled in the closing stages of the first period.
He then made it two, putting Egypt in front. His third came not long after, but unfortunately for him Karim turned the ball into his own net, inadvertently equalising for Oman. Sharif then restored an initial lead for the Omanis with a brilliant strike.
But neither side was being shaken off easily, and at the start of the final period, Moustafa, the tournament MVP, netted to make it 4-4.
For the second time on Saturday, the match was decided after normal time, and it was the competition top scorer who took his final tally to eight with a fine effort at the crucial time, nosing Oman in front to grab the match from the Pharaohs 5-4.
Meanwhile, the Saudi’s had arguably already overachieved in their maiden event in Neom, but they were here to go one step further and battle for a third-place finish.
It was the locals who scored first, as Saleh blasted the ball past the Beach Soccer World Cup participants, after just two minutes. They kept hold of this slim advantage until Ahmed managed to find an equaliser just two minutes from the break.
There was little to separate the sides and they each fought for every ball, not content to finish the event in fourth. The deadlock was broken once more by Mohamed Ali who drove a low shot home to make it 1-2.
UAE were enjoying a period of superior possession and with their noses in front they seemed more comfortable on the ball. But they couldn’t extend the lead, and eventually paid for it when Ali Kozad headed unfortunately into his own net, with less than a second on the clock!
The game may have been low-scoring but it certainly didn’t lack drama, as the inevitable three added minutes still didn’t see a winner decided. It was from the penalty spot that UAE finally managed to assert themselves, netting all three of their spotkicks to see off the stubborn Saudis and claim third place.
Having lost both of their group matches, England and China faced off in their last day in Saudi Arabia, determined to clinch fifth place.
Predictably, the game was tight to begin with and England failed to convert a couple of early freekicks. The score was still 0-0 at the first break and the stalemate lasted deep into the second period.
When the breakthrough did eventually come, it was the England number ten Aaron Clarke who finally found the net after being unable to do so in the opening two matches. A Wang equaliser not long after put Ramiro Amarelle’s men back on level terms.
But a James Temple strike saw the lead restored going into the third and final period, and the English extended it after the restart as Mitchell Day blasted in straight from the kick off.
Halfway through the final period China pulled one back through Liang and were now just one behind. Cameron O’Rourke smashed a brilliant overhead off the bar and, in the aftermath, James Temple bagged his second by slotting home a loose ball to make it 2-4.
Captain Cai scored in the remaining minutes to bring the Chinese within touching distance of their rivals but the final whistle went with the score at 3-4, and England finish the tournament in fifth.