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

The National - News - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - Gary Meenaghan sports@then­

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

Cour­tesy Manuel Queimade­los

The UAE made an ideal start to their Beach Soc­cer World Cup cam­paign by beat­ing Paraguay on Fri­day.

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