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Busy UAE face Morocco in Intercontinental Cup

Dubai: UAE coach Marcelo Mendes will hope his players can overcome fatigue and jet lag in time to face Morocco in their opening match of the Third Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on Tuesday.

The annual, five-day competition brings together the champions of all the continents. Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Matoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the event will see the UAE take on the best teams in the world, including multiple world champions Brazil, current champions Russia and Switzerland.

Joining the hosts and Morocco in Group A are Switzerland and Mexico, while Group B consists of Russia, Brazil, Italy and Asian champions Iran.

The bulk of the UAE squad was with Mendes at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, participating in the Mundialito de Clubes that was scheduled to conclude with Corinthians taking on Flamengo in the final late on Sunday.

The Emirati squad only returned from Brazil late on Saturday, but they were due to take part in a training session at DIMC on Sunday before facing Morocco 48 hours later.

“This is one more opportunity for the national squad to prove how they have evolved as a unit. These are the best teams of the world and it will be of interest for me to see how this bunch of players has made the transition,” Mendes told Gulf News.

“Our players have just undergone a very fruitful experience of playing against the best in the business at the Mundialito de Clubes that featured clubs such as Barcelona, AC Milan, Flamengo, Corinthians, Botafogo, Vasco da Gama and Penarol. Though we were eliminated in the group stages, we can be proud we won against Barcelona and this experience will definitely come in handy this week.

“The first match against Morocco will be crucial. We need to be at our best before we face Mexico and Switzerland on Wednesday and Thursday to give ourselves the chance of a spot in the semi-finals.”

Fixtures

Tuesday

4.45pm — Switzerland vs Mexico (Group A); 6pm — Russia vs Italy (B); 7.15pm — Italy vs Brazil (B); 8.30pm — UAE vs Morocco (A)

Wednesday

4.45pm — Morocco vs Switzerland (A); 6pm Iran vs Brazil (B); 7.15pm — Russia vs Italy (B); 8.30pm — Mexico vs UAE (A)

Thursday

4.45pm — Iran vs Italy (B); 6pm — Morocco vs Mexico (A); 7.15pm — Brazil vs Russia (B); 8.30pm — UAE vs Switzerland (A)

Friday

4.45pm — B3 vs A4; 6pm — A3 vs B4; 7.15pm — Semi-final 1; 8.30pm — Semi-final 2

Saturday

4.45pm — Play-off for seventh place; 6pm — Play-off for fifth place; 7.15pm — Play-off for third place; 8.30pm — Final