Bahrain kick off Asian beach soccer title bid
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Bahrain face off with Afghanistan today in their opening game of the 2023 AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup, taking place in Pattaya, Thailand. Sixteen teams are competing in the continent’s premier beach soccer tournament, organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
It also acts as a qualification competition for the 2023 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, with the two finalists set to book their tickets to the global championship.
The Bahrainis are in Group A for the event’s preliminary round. After playing Afghanistan today in a match kicking off at 1pm, Bahrain time, they take on Saudi Arabia on Saturday, and then lock horns with hosts Thailand on Monday.
Bahrain must finish in the top two of their group to qualify for the knockout quarter-finals. Bahrain are in Pattaya with a 12-member squad.
The players include Khalifa Ibrahim, Ahmed Abdulrasool, Rashid Jamal, Mohammed Ashoor, Abdulla Abdullatif, Salman Al Yaqoobi, Mohammed Darwish, Mahran Maatouq, Mohammed Yacoob, Hamza Al Balooshi, Hassan Ebrahim and Issa Jumaa.
Speaking yesterday in his pre-tournament Press conference, Bahrain head coach Sadeq Marhoon believes it is his side’s time to shine as glory has long eluded them, last having come close to winning the title in 2009 when they were silver-medallists.
“We’re happy to be participating in this tournament again and like all the other teams, we have prepared ahead of the tournament,” Marhoon said.
“We also played several friendlies here in Pattaya. “We are aiming to go as far as we can and qualify for the 2023 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Bahrain won the tournament's first edition in 2006 under head coach Gustavo Zloccowick, who is now coaching Saudi.
The Bahrainis have appeared in eight of the tournament’s previous editions, including in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.