Portugal’s win over the UAE in the 10th Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai has blown Group A wide open.
Senegal top the group on six points with the UAE and Portugal on three each, and Spain yet to open their account, as they go into the final league games at Kite Beach on Thursday.
A win for Senegal over the UAE will make it a straightforward qualification for the African champions.
If both UAE and Portugal emerge winners, they will end up on six points each with Senegal, and the semi-final slots to will decided on goal difference.
A win for Senegal and Spain would mean the leaders top the group and the remaining three team finish on three points each, the side with the best goal difference advancing.
UAE’s good start on the opening night ended at the second hurdle when Portugal clinched a 5-3 win to keep their own hopes alive on Wednesday.
Be Martins put Portugal in front two minutes into the first period and Ruben Brilhante doubled the lead before the UAE captain Walid Mohammed scrambled the ball over the line to pull one back.
Andre Lourenco thundered in a screamer and Abbas Ali was left unmarked to head home a corner in reply, as Portugal maintained their one-goal lead.
Leo Martins, nominated in the top three Best Players for 2021, found himself alone to slam in a fourth for Portugal but Abbas struck a second to reduce the deficit to one goal.
Then came the decisive strike as a volley from Be Martins, assisted by his twin brother Leo, sealed the points for Portugal.
“It is simple equation to qualify for the last four stage, meaning we must win the next game against Senegal,” the UAE captain Walid said.
“The Portugal versus Spain match is the early game and we’ll know where we exactly stand when we face Senegal. That’s only a target and our objective is to go for a win regardless who qualify for the last four stage.”
Senegal overcame Spain in a thriller 7-6, while Russia and Iran booked their places in the semi-final after victories over Paraguay and Japan in Group B.
4pm: Japan v Paraguay (Group B)
5.15pm: Portugal v Spain (Group A)
6.45pm: Senegal v UAE (Group A)
8pm: Russia v Iran (Group B)