World Cup-bound UAE to face Italy, Spain and Japan in group stages - GulfToday

World Cup-bound UAE to face Italy, Spain and Japan in group stages

World Cup-bound UAE to face Italy,  Spain and Japan in group stages

Saeed Hareb, Joan Cusco, Nasser Al Rahma, Maite Ventura and other dignitaries pose for a picture after the draw at the Dubai Sports Council headquarters.

Hosts UAE will face European powerhouses Italy and Spain, and Asian champions Japan in the group stages of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai 2019 next month.

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

The draw for the ninth edition of the prestigious annual tournament was held at Dubai Sports Council (DSC) on Wednesday, while the matches will take place at Kite Beach in Jumeirah from Nov. 5 to 9.

During the ceremony, Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, said: “We are delighted to present another edition of the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, a hugely popular event among both the teams and their fans.

“The majestic Kite Beach will once again be the home of the tournament after a hugely successful event last year.

“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 in Dubai 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.

“As you can see from the line-up, the tournament again boasts the best teams of the world. We welcome them and all the other teams and wish them all the best for the tournament. “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.”

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 on hand this year as Italy are the fourth ranked side in Beach Soccer Worldwide rankings, while Spain are not far behind at No 7. Japan, meanwhile, had 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 0-2 down to level the scores at 2-2 in regulation time.

In reaching the final of the Asian championship, the UAE had 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, which is taking place between Nov.21 to Dec.1.

“We do not have any South American team this year because of the World Cup in Paraguay, but we have still managed to assemble an amazing line-up of teams,” said Joan Cusco, Executive Vice-President of Beach Soccer Worldwide.

“Five of the eight teams will be going to the World Cup from here and two of the three teams not going are world No 7 Spain and defending champions Iran. That should give you an indication of the quality of teams here.

“So I am confident competition will be at the highest level and we can expect another successful event.”

For the second year running, a state-of-the art stadium on Dubai’s Kite Beach will host the tournament, which is one of the most anticipated and prestigious beach soccer competitions in the world.

“Kite Beach is a really amazing place,” said Cusco. “We love it there and we hope the tournament stays there for many more years to come.

“Next year, we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this tournament and we will do many unique things to make it special.

“The tournament will also be taking place under the umbrella of Expo2020 next year, and we are looking forward to this opportunity to send images of Dubai’s unique landmarks and achievements around the world.

“But for me, this year’s tournament is also like a 10th anniversary because it is 10 years since we hosted the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup here at Jumeirah Beach in 2009.

“It is amazing how this city has changed since then. It has grown in a unique way and I feel at home here, having watched it grow.

“So we are looking forward to celebrating 10 years of this very successful partnership with Dubai, DSC and UAE Football Association (UAEFA) in a special way.”