Asian Beach Football debuts on Dubai's Al Mamzar

Six sides split into two groups will clash over five days at the Al Mamzar Beach in the 2007 World Cup Beach Soccer qualifiers for the Asian Zone tomorrow. The teams are hosts UAE, Gulf champions Bahrain, Japan, China, Iran and debutants India. "The two finalists and the winners of the third-place match will be the Asian Zone representatives at the finals to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later in November," Salah Tahlak, acting Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, told Hisham Al Gizouli of Khaleej Times. The competition is being organised by the Dubai Sports Council under the patronage of its Chairman, Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. "Beach Soccer is part of our sports culture and the people of the UAE used to practice it along the Gulf beach during the sixties and early seventies before the construction of the modern stadiums and playgrounds," Tahlak said.

Flavio Danilias, head of FIFA Beach Soccer, praised the initiative of the Dubai Sports Council to support the qualifiers pointing out that beach soccer is a new game and this support is very crucial to its growth. "The Asian zone qualifiers represent one of the six qualifier events around the world to determine who will qualify alongside hosts Brazil for the global showpiece on Copacabana Beach. Solomon Islands from the Oceana, Nigeria and Senegal from Africa, USA and Mexico from the Caribbean in addition to Argentine and Uruguay from Latin America have already being granted trips to Rio de Janeiro," he said. "It's going to be a very tough competition this time in Asia, " he said.