Asian qualifiers for FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

The draw for the Asia qualifiers for this year's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was held this week in Dubai where the continental tournament will take place at Mamzar Beach, between 14-18 August. Defending champions Bahrain have been grouped with hosts UAE, Iran and another nation that is yet to be named. Group 'B', meanwhile, consists of the Philippines, Thailand, Japan and China. The top two teams from each group move on to the semi-finals, which will be played on 17 August. The third-place playoff and final are scheduled for 18 August. The top three teams from the competition will move on to this year's World Cup which is scheduled to take place between 2-11 November at the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bahrain defeated Asian powerhouses Japan 5-3 in last year's final to clinch the region's championship. They were led by Abdulla Ismail Omar, who was later named the Best Player of the tournament. Beach soccer was officially recognised as a FIFA sport in 2005.