Iran’s Moslem Mesigar receives a trophy from Saeed Hareb as Nasser Aman Al Rahma and other dignitaries look on.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Iran emerged winners at the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup 2022. In the tightest of finals held at Kite Beach in Dubai, the Iranians hung on to a 2-1 lead right until the end against Brazil, who also had three titles ahead of this edition, to lift their fourth, equaling Russia’s record.
Amir Akbari was named as the MVP, while fellow Iranian Hamid went home with the Best Goalkeeper award. After netting a double on the final day, Carlos Carballo, the Paraguay skipper, won the Top Scorer award.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, gave away the prizes in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, the Assistant Secretary-General of Dubai Sports Council.
La Albirroja ended the tournament in third, their best finish to date, after defeating the hosts in the playoff for third.
Two previous champions, each with three titles, clashed on the sands of Dubai for the crown at the 11th edition of the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup.
Neither had lost so far, but in beach soccer there are no draws, and an unbeaten streak had to come to an end on Sunday.
After a tense opening ten minutes, Iranian beach soccer legend Ahmadzadeh finally broke the deadlock and the mainly Iranian stadium, including those outside who couldn’t get a seat inside, exploded.
A spectacular strike from Saeed had the crowd on their feet once more in the second period, and Brazil, as they had in the semi-finals, looked to be running out of ideas, taking pot shots in an attempt to get back into the game.
Eventually Marco Octavio’s men found a way through, as Catarino slotted home a penalty to make it 2-1.
A stubborn Iran then hung on for dear life as the men in yellow shirts threw everything they had at them, but they cleverly held the Brazilian firepower at bay to clinch the win, and a record-equalling fourth Intercontinental Cup!
The hosts’ best finish in Dubai was third, while Paraguay had only ever finished seventh in in their previous two appearances, but it was the South Americans who took the lead.
Carballo netted the only goal of the first period. Benitez scored early in the second but Rashed pulled one back as the match neared its midway point.
A crazy Carballo bicycle kick, taking his tournament tally to eight, bounced in off the post to make it 3-1 and a final goal from Ojeda sealed the bronze for Paraguay, their best ever finish, while UAE finished in a respectable fourth.
Japan beat the US to match their best-ever finish in Dubai. Fifth place was the best either nation had achieved at the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, and it was the best either could do in the 2022 edition.
Japanese captain and 2021 Best Player in the world Ozu put away the opener with a fine finish, while Oba and Matsuo extended the lead to make it 3-0 going into the final third.
Jose buried a fourth in the last period and Japan sealed fifth at a canter in Dubai. The US finished sixth.
Spain won their second match in Dubai against Saudi Arabia in the battle for seventh place, after having already played them once in the group stages. Four goals flew in in the first period, as Adrian, Casano (2) and David Ardil put La Roja in control.