United Arab Emirates crowned champions of the ANOC World Beach Games Asian Qualifier

The tournament comes to a dramatic end in Jeddah

An incredible final day of the ANOC World Beach Games Asian Qualifier, as two breathtaking matches took place on the Jeddah sand…

Japan score six to finish third

The first match of the evening was to determine the third and fourth place finishers in this year’s tournament, as Japan took on hosts, Saudi Arabia.

Japan captain, Ozu began the scoring in this contest, as he smashed his bicycle kick effort into the bottom corner to give his side the advantage. Strikes from Matsuo and Miyama took the score to 3-0 by the end of the first period.

Saudi Arabia came out extremely quickly in the second period as Faisal headed home at the back post reduce the deficit in 18 seconds. The hosts, then scored again as Majed converted a penalty to make the score 3-2. However, Japan weren’t phased, as goals from Oba and Miyama restored their three goal lead.

A goal from captain, Ramzi gave his team a lifeline, but with almost seven minutes from time Miyama scored his hat-trick for Japan and secured the win.

United Arab Emirates become champions in Jeddah

The second fixture of the day was the biggest match of the tournament so far, the final. United Arab Emirates and Iran had already qualified for the ANOC World Beach Games the night before, but both sides were determined to lift the golden trophy in Jeddah.

The UAE were spectacular in the first period, as Beshr struck first for his nation to put his side ahead in the final. Just four minutes later, the lead was doubled as semi-final goal scorer, Ali fired in another huge goal and the third and fourth of the evening shortly followed, as Abas slotted his penalty into the bottom right corner, sending the Iran goalkeeper the opposite way and Beshr doubled his goal scoring tally for the night, with less than a minute go of the period.

Iran were dreaming of a good start to the second period, and that dream soon became a reality as their joint top scorer of the tournament, Akbari, smashed home a volley straight from kick-off, as he made the score 4-1. It got even better for Ali Naderi’s side, as goalkeeper, Seyed, hit a rocket from distance with immaculate precision that found the top left corner, meaning his nation only needed to score two goals without a United Arab Emirates response in the third period to take the final to extra time.

During the interval, a roar of passion from the UAE bench echoed around the stadium, as they were just 12 minutes from being declared champions. United Arab Emirates goalkeeper, Humaid made some fantastic saves throughout the third period, as his team were desperately holding on to their narrow lead as Iran looked for the all-important breakthrough. With two minutes and 54 seconds left on the clock, a quick throw from Humaid ricocheted off the Iran goalkeeper and Rashed was the most composed person in the stadium for split second, as he glided past an Iran defender, and with his back to goal, turned and hit a perfectly struck finish into the top left corner. Emotion came pouring out of Rashed as he dropped to his knees, knowing that he had likely made his nation champions.

The United Arab Emirates fought like warriors for the final few minutes, putting their bodies on the line at any given opportunity to secure the victory. Captain, Walid led by example as he was blocking Iran shots across the pitch to keep his team ahead. The party had already started with twenty seconds on the clock, as the UAE substitutes, as well as coaching and medical staff were on their feet waiting for the final whistle to blow, and just like that the match was done as the United Arab Emirates were the ANOC World Beach Games Asian Qualifier winners.

Prior to the trophy lift, three personal awards were given out to ‘Best goalkeeper’, ‘Top goal scorer’, and the ‘MVP’ (most valuable player). Humaid was awarded ‘Best goalkeeper’ after some wonderful performances for United Arab Emirates, Al Yaqdhan of Oman won ‘Top goal scorer’ with four goals for his country, and Ali won the ‘MVP’ award, as he scored some crucial goals for United Arab Emirates in the tournament and did his defensive duties to a very high level too.

An incredible tournament start to finish as United Arab Emirates raised their trophy.

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