Ahmadzadeh: “We are in a better condition than we were at the World Cup, especially on the physical side”
Dubai, UAE, October 30, 2017: On a high following their best ever finish at a World Cup earlier in the summer, 2013 champions Iran are hoping to keep the momentum going at the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup this week and add some more “glitter” to their trophy cabinet.
Team Melli finished third at the 2017 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in the Bahamas after losing on penalties to Tahiti in a hard-fought semi-final, but picked up two individual awards at the sport's showpiece event - Mohammad Ahmadzadeh won the Golden Ball, while the ever-dependent Peyman Hosseini returned home with the Golden Glove title. The Iran goalkeeper also won the award for the Goal of the Tournament.
“These titles are not enough for me or Mr Hosseini,” said Ahmadzadeh, who will lead the Iran team here at the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, which is organised by the Dubai Sports Council and runs from October 31 to November 4 at its swanky new home on Marasi Business Bay.
“We are looking for more glitter to help our team reach the heights we deserve. We are a good team and we have repeatedly shown we are among the best in the world.
“It has been a few years since our team has been on this upward climb and we were able to put up a good show in the Bahamas World Cup, getting third place and some individual titles.
“The management of Iran beach soccer has begun a process since years ago, which is expected to lead to the World Cup title. So we are not aiming only for the Intercontinental Cup, but our target is to win the World championship.”
Iran, who denied Russia's bid for a third successive Intercontinental Cup title in the 2013 final, will open their bid for glory at this seventh running of the tournament against Paraguay on Tuesday night and then take on Mexico on day two before clashing with Russia on Thursday night, in what has become one of the best-attended matches of the tournament.
“We are in a good physical and tactical condition as our coach Octavio is one of the best beach soccer coaches in the world,” said Ahmadzadeh. “We have held three camps and our physical trainings were excellent. Now we are 100 per cent ready.
“After the World Cup, the Intercontinental Cup is the most important competition in the world of beach soccer and the competition is at a high level. We are going to try our best because this tournament is very important for us.
“Thanks to Octavio, I believe we are in a better condition than we were at the World Cup, especially on the physical side, and we are highly motivated for the start of the competition.”
The Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, of course, is also dear to Ahmadzadeh and his Iranian teammates because it is held in Dubai, a city with a sizeable Iranian fan base and Team Melli have always enjoyed great support from the stands.
“Holding the competition in Dubai, no doubt, creates a good condition for us because there are many Iranian residents in Dubai, which is a big point for us and helps us to concentrate on our goals,” said Ahmadzadeh. “Our fans come to the stadium in numbers and lift the team with their passion.”
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), the tournament is being hosted by Dubai Properties at their stunning new development Marasi Business Bay this year.
There will be free shuttle buses operating from the Business Bay Metro Station to the new stadium, which will also be served by nearby bus stops at Clover Bay Tower and The Binary Tower. Ample parking is also available at the new facility.
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)