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22 Jan 2013
Asian Qualifiers officially inaugutrated
Tournament director, Hamad Al Mannai, highlights the "exciting opportunity" the event means for Qatar
At a press conference yesterday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, the Tournament Director of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 - AFC Qualifiers, Hamad Al Mannai, officially opened the competition.
Hamad al Mannai, who is also the Vice Chairman of Futsal and Beach Soccer at the Qatar Football Association; Joan Cusco, FIFA Beach Soccer CEO (and FIFA Beach Soccer Committee Member) and Qatar?s Beach Soccer Head Coach, Nenem, were present at the opening.
During the press conference, Hamad al Mannai commented on Qatar?s chances: ?It?s an exciting opportunity for Qatar?s team to be participating in the Asian qualifiers ? both as hosts and for the first time. Oman reached the last FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Italy after hosting the Asian qualifiers and we hope to do the same.?
?There is a 60% to 70% chance for Qatar to qualify,? said Nenem, Qatar?s Coach, ?But we are taking it one step at a time and concentrating first on our match against Afghanistan,? he added.
In turn, Joan Cuscó, FIFA Beach Soccer CEO, highlighted the landmark achieved by these Asian Qualifiers:
?For the first time ever, 16 teams have joined the competition, clearly demonstrating the growth of the sport in the region and interest Qatar raises among Asian countries, as a top-quality host.?
Beyond the Qualifiers, Cusco also spoke on the exhibition match occurring right before the final on Saturday between the beach soccer teams of FC Barcelona and AC Milan:
?These two football giants have embraced and shown a strong commitment to the sport. They wanted to fly to Doha, to be here and be a part of such an excellent tournament,? he explained.
Qatar, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Japan ? 2011 AFC Beach Soccer Champions, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan are competing in the qualifiers.
The first place teams from each group advance to the semi-finals. The two finalists and the third place, play-off winner will earn qualification to the seventh edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which will take place from the 18th to the 28th of September, 2013 at Toata Stadium (Stade de Toata) in Papeete, on the Pacific island of Tahiti.