UAE ‘unlucky’ after extra-time defeat to Portugal results in Beach Soccer World Cup exit

Defeated but not dispirited, the UAE squad will fly home on Wednesday from the Bahamas following their elimination from the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup.

The UAE, in white, have been eliminated from the Beach Soccer World Cup after extra-time defeat to Portugal. Courtesy Lea Weil
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NASSAU // Defeated but not dispirited, the UAE squad will fly home on Wednesday from the Bahamas following their elimination from the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup.

The Emirates had won their opening two games this week to top Group C going into the final round of matches.

Yet with Paraguay beating Panama 5-2 on Tuesday afternoon, Mohammed Bashir’s side kicked off their final group game against the reigning world champions Portugal a few hours later knowing only a win would be enough. Ultimately it was not to be. An ill-tempered tie was decided in extra-time after the match finished 1-1.

With only 23 seconds of the additional three minutes on the clock, Portuguese defender Bruno Novo struck a low volley past Humaid Jamal.

Courtesy Manuel Queimadelos

It had been the Emirati goalkeeper who rattled home his side’s equaliser in the dying seconds of regular time, but he was helpless to prevent Novo’s rocket going in.

“We did not achieve our goals and for that we are very disappointed, but we go home with our heads held high,” Bashir said.

“We have won two games and took the world champions to extra time. We left every part of ourselves on the sand and the players carried out my instructions perfectly. I am very proud of my team.”

When the referee blew his whistle to confirm the UAE’s elimination, veteran Ali Karim fell to his knees, debutant Ahmed Beshr hid his head in his shirt, and forward Kamal Ali collapsed inconsolable.

Bashir shook his head in disappointment as it sunk in that for all his side’s achievements this week, they were exiting at a familiar stage.

Courtesy Manuel Queimadelos

In five World Cup appearances, the UAE have never reached the knockout stages.

Bashir had suggested before the tournament began that should the Emirates fail to progress, it might spell the end of his time as coach. While he refused to confirm his future post-match, captain Walid Mohammad stressed the coach should be given more time.

“He has not even been in the job one year,” Mohammad said. “We need stability and he needs time. For me, he should stay. He has achieved many good things here and set new records. It is the first time the UAE have won two matches at a World Cup and we achieved this playing good football.”

Courtesy Manuel Queimadelos

It was Portugal that had settled quicker, pushing the UAE back and forcing Mohamed Al Jasmi into several fine first-period saves. Midway through the second of the three 12-minute periods, Belchior spun his defender and smashed home the opener, but as the game drew on and both sides knew a win was essential to their hopes of progression, the Portuguese side’s desire boiled over.

Six fouls and three yellow cards as well as some time-wasting tactics resulted in Karim, the Emirati midfielder, delivering a withering assessment of his experienced opponents.

“This was our final and to lose like this is hard to accept,” said Karim, 37, who has played at five World Cups and refused to rule out playing again in 2019.

Courtesy Manuel Queimadelos

“Portugal are the world champions, but if my team was world champions I would be ashamed to play like they played.

“If they are world champions, they should beat the UAE by six goals or seven goals, so why do they need to be so aggressive and foul and dive? I felt embarrassed for them.”

Captain Mohammad refused to attribute blame for the loss.

“We were unlucky,” he said. “That was the only difference. We had the same amount of possession, more shots at goal and were the better team overall, but we did not have that little bit of luck that sometimes you need.

“I cannot say I am happy because that would be a lie, but we can go home knowing we gave our all and on another day might have won.”

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