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Guga targets strong UAE finish in beach soccer

Brazilian coach sets up five friendly matches during build-up to annual competition

16:42 October 14, 2016

Dubai: The UAE Beach Soccer coach has lined up a total of five friendly matches to ensure his national squad peaks well in time for next month’s Sixth Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup Dubai.

The five-day tournament, which brings the best seven teams from across the world to join hosts UAE, will be played at a specially set-up sand pitch at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) from November 1-5.

The hosts will be joined by Tahiti, Brazil and Poland in Group A, while defending three-time champions Russia will be challenged by Iran, USA and Egypt in Group B. The best two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals while the others will vie for placing spots.

The UAE recently returned from a disappointing campaign at the Fifth Asian Beach Games held in Danang, Vietnam after losing to ultimate champions Japan 6-2 in the quarter-finals. Fully aware of the shortcomings in Vietnam, the UAE’s Brazilian coach, Gustavo Henrique Zloccowick (Guga), set about rectifying the team’s mistakes by calling for a one-month training camp that is being alternated between the beach soccer facilities at Al Mamzar and the UAE Football Association in Al Khawaneej.

Guga has been putting the entire squad through a training regime that should make the players sharp and fit for next month’s challenge that will get under way against former three-time world champions Brazil on November 1. “We need the fitness and sharpness before we take on the world champions. These players need the belief that they can do it [win] against any of the top teams in this competition,” Guga told Gulf News while supervising a training session at the UAE FA facility earlier this week.

The UAE has already played one friendly — against Ajman-based Sport 4 All — and won convincingly 7-3. They will play against the same team next week before turning their attention to practice matches against Russia (October 27), Egypt (October 28) and Hungary (October 29).

“Right now, it is all about getting this group of players focused on the task ahead. We need to cultivate spirit among this team, and at the same time concentrate on working to a method that will help us achieve our goal of qualifying to the semi-final from our group,” Guga said.

“And if we can make it to the final for the first time in the history of this tournament, then I can foresee this team winning the trophy for the first time ever,” the Brazilian added.

After the opening match against Brazil on November 1, the UAE will take on Tahiti and Poland in the next two days in the Group A preliminary rounds. The UAE’s best performance has been third place on a couple of occasions with identical 8-7 wins against Nigeria (2012) and Switzerland (2013). “A place in the semi-final is our first goal,” Guga insisted.

“I am confident this team is capable of bringing in good results. The group match against Poland will decide our place in the semi-final, but our focus has to be maximum in all three group matches,” the Brazilian cautioned.

Entry for all matches on all five days will be free for the general public, with organisers lining up an array of activities on the sidelines to keep spectators entertained.