Victorious UAE playing it cool at Beach Soccer World Cup. s6
Defender Beshr takes nothing for granted after win over Paraguay in opener gives Emirates a chance to make quarter-finals
NASSAU // The UAE, far from home and with an Emirati manager who has never coached at a Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup before, are on the cusp of making history in the Bahamas. Led by coach Mohamed Bashir, the UAE opened their campaign on Friday with a nervy, hard-fought 3-2 win over Paraguay.
Now if world champions Portugal can emulate that feat and beat the South Americans today (1am UAE time tomorrow), a second successive victory for the UAE later today (4am UAE time tomorrow) against Panama would ensure passage to the quarter-finals for the first time in the country’s history. Panama are making their World Cup debut this month after winning the Concacaf Championship in February, yet they were humiliated 7-0 by Portugal in their opening match.
Nevertheless, the UAE defender Waleed Beshr has urged his teammates to respect their Central American opponents and take nothing for granted.
“Panama is a very good team, we know that because any team playing at a World Cup has quality. We mustn’t underestimate them,” said Beshr, who netted the UAE’s third goal against Paraguay.
“Every game can be different. Maybe Panama did not play so well against Portugal, but they know – and we know – they can play a lot better. We must be careful and professional. We must be ready.”
Beach Soccer involves three 12-minute thirds opposed to two 45-minute halves, and Beshr’s goal came in the opening minute of the final period, just thirty seconds after midfielder Abbas Ali had cleared off the UAE goal-line.
With the score poised at 2-1, it felt like the critical moment in a match the Emirates had billed as a must-win.
“In this game we only wanted the three points, for that reason maybe we did not play our best football, but we are delighted,” said Beshr, whose brother Ahmed also featured for the UAE.
“My goal was not really mine, it was the result of the team and a blessing from God.” Defender Haitham Mohamed had opened the scoring for the Emirates after only five minutes, benefiting from a well-rehearsed routine: a long shot from goalkeeper Mohammed Al Jasmi, redirected at the last second by the head of the Emirati, who had positioned himself directly in front of the opposition shot-stopper. A few moments later, he was unlucky not to double his country’s lead with the same tactic.
“It’s not the first time I have scored a goal like this,” said Mohamed, who eventually did notch his country’s second, prodding home a through-ball. “At the World Cup in Tahiti in 2013, I scored a goal like this, direct from the goalkeeper. We practise it in training and it worked again here.”
Panama will know another defeat will bring their World Cup adventure to an end, but the UAE can be confident having seen off a stern challenge from Paraguay, the second-best team in South America. Although they had to clear two shots off the line, they never fell behind at any moment.
“The first step is complete, but we have more steps to take to reach our goal. Inshallah this result will give more belief to the players that they can achieve something special,” said coach Bashir, who was facing his mentor in Paraguay’s Gustavo “Guga” Zloccowick, the Brazilian who managed the UAE between 2014 and 2016.
“I have played at a World Cup before, but this is my first time coaching at one so to win our first game, and to do so against a great coach like Guga is a very proud moment for me,” added Bashir, who took the reigns this year.
“Now we recover, regroup and turn our attention to Panama.”
Maybe Panama did not play so well against Portugal, but they know – and we know – they can play a lot better Waleed Beshr UAE defender urges caution ahead of next match
The UAE made an ideal start to their Beach Soccer World Cup campaign by beating Paraguay on Friday.