UAE coach Mohammad Al Mazmi: “People will see us play with our heart for the country”
Dubai, UAE, October 23, 2017: Mohammad Al Mazmi, coach of the UAE national beach soccer team, reckons his side have a point to prove at the upcoming Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup in Dubai after the disappointment of 2016 and the hosts are leaving nothing to chance as they prepare for the mega event.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Government and Dubai Sports Council (DSC), and organised by the Dubai Sports Council, the 7th edition of the annual beach soccer extravaganza will run from October 31 to November 4 at its new home, Marasi Business Bay.
The eight-team tournament was held at the Dubai International Marine Club last year and the hosts did not have a great outing, losing the first four of their matches before a narrow 4-3 win over the United States allowed them to finish seventh.
However, much has changed since, with the then coach Gustavo ‘Guga' Zloccowick making way for Al Mazmi and the UAE's current coaching structure has seen the team take runners-up spot at the AFC Beach Soccer Championship in Malaysia before a respectable showing at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in The Bahamas in May.
The UAE may have exited at the group stage in Bahamas, but did so despite picking up two wins, going out after a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to defending champions Portugal in extra-time.
The hosts will meet Portugal again, in their opening Group A on October 31, before taking on Egypt on day two and then the reigning Intercontinental and World champions Brazil in their final group game.
The group is a tough one, but Al Mazmi says he and his squad are full of confidence after spending the last few months preparing diligently for one of the biggest competitions in the sport's calendar.
“We had the UAE's best FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup participation in history and I think that it is a definite sign of progress,” he said. “Step-by-step we are showing to the world our hard work that we are building up here day-by-day.
“After the World Cup, a great number of our players went to Europe to play in different leagues and competitions, so that helps us to gain more experience. For sure we are stronger than ever.”
Al Mazmi is also eagerly anticipating the prospect of leading the UAE out on home sand for the first time as coach, adding: “I am wanting the very best for my team.
“It's a good opportunity for us to show the hard work that we have put in for the last four months during training and it's going to be a great experience for myself and the players to feel the atmosphere that comes with playing in your own country, with family, friends and supporters watching.”
The UAE's best efforts at the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup came with third-place finishes in 2012 and 2013, something Al Mazmi is eager to build on this time around. And the coach says local fans in the region can expect a fully committed and determined display from his team after four months of preparation.
“We do need more support when it comes to things like the national league in UAE and more championships for the national teams, but we have been training since July for this tournament,” he added.
“The people will see a team here who are organised, skilled and, most importantly, playing with their heart for their country.”
Schedule of group matches
Tuesday, October 31:
16:15: Egypt vs Brazil (Group A)
17:30: Portugal vs UAE (Group A)
18:45: Russia vs Mexico (Group B)
20:00: Iran vs Paraguay (Group B)
Wednesday, November 1
16:15: UAE vs Egypt (Group A)
17:30: Brazil vs Portugal (Group A)
18:45: Paraguay vs Russia (Group B)
20:00: Mexico vs Iran (Group B)
Thursday, November 2
16:15: Mexico vs Paraguay (Group B)
17:30: Egypt vs Portugal (Group A)
18:45: UAE vs Brazil (Group A)
20:00: Iran vs Russia (Group B)