The UAE will have their task cut out at the 10th Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup Dubai after they were placed in Group A alongside European powerhouses Portugal and Spain, and African champions Senegal.
In the other group, newly crowned world champions and three-time winners Russia meet Iran, Paraguay and Japan during the tournament at Kite Beach from November 2-6.
The eight teams discovered their groups for the annual event in the beach soccer calendar following the official draw at the Dubai Sports Council headquarters on Tuesday.
“We are really excited about the 10th edition of the competition, which was born here in Dubai in 2011 and has produced some of beach soccer’s most memorable moments since,” Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council, said.
“This year we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of this hugely popular event. It is a special milestone, and the fact we will be celebrating this milestone at a time when Dubai is hosting Expo 2020 makes it even more memorable for us.
“The world is here, and the world’s best are here for Expo 2020. And early next month, the best from the world of beach soccer will be here as well to compete on the sands of one of the world’s most happening beaches, Kite Beach.”
The tournament is organised by Dubai Sports Council and Beach Soccer Worldwide in association with UAE Football Association.
Competition will be intense with three of the four semi-finalists from the recent 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup – the two finalists Russia and Japan, and Senegal – in the fray.
Iran are back to defend their crown and also to renew their Dubai rivalry with Russia. These two teams, and their ardent fans, have been a constant feature on the tournament’s highlight reels over the years.
“So, there is plenty to look forward to,” Hareb added. “Like every year, UAE’s passionate beach soccer fans - and there are plenty of them here because the stands are almost always full - can expect five days of electrifying action and edge-of-the-seat entertainment.”
Joan Cusco, president of Beach Soccer Worldwide, believes the level of competition will be as good as the World Cup itself.
“Every team wants to come to Dubai and, to be honest, if we were to increase the number of teams from eight to 20, we would fill all the spots inside a week,” he said.
“Everybody wants to take part in this event and everybody wants to be in Dubai, especially this year when Expo 2020 is taking place here.”