Mendes targets last eight
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup has rendered Marseille abuzz with excitement. The city's natives have been joined in anticipation by members of the press and supporters from across the world, seduced to the French port to witness 16 teams satiate their desire for unpredictable and abounding flair.
One of those teams is United Arab Emirates, whose players have more reason that most to revel in the atmosphere. For next year, the honour of hosting this burgeoning tournament will befall Dubai, one of the seven states that make up their homeland.
"The people of the United Arab Emirates are very excited that the Beach Soccer World Cup is coming," said national team coach Marcelo Mendes. "The atmosphere here in Marseille is great, there is a lot of enthusiasm, so we are really looking forward to hosting the event. But this has put pressure on us to do well, to raise the hopes of our supporters. We believe we can do this."
Mendes' optimism is justified. When he assumed the United Arab Emirates reins, they were considered minnows on the beach soccer circuit, but successive Asian titles has put paid to that status. "When I took over, they had very little idea tactically. I instilled this into the team, established a system, and we have since achieved good results," explained the former Uruguay coach.
Now Mendes is out to mastermind further positive results on Prado beach, starting with tomorrow's date with Cameroon. "," he affirmed.
Maximum points on Friday would leave the UAE in a favourable position to fulfil their coach's ambition of a place in the quarter-finals. "It will not be easy. Cameroon, Argentina and Russia are all strong sides," Mendes said. "But our objective is to reach the second round. If we do that we'll try to go even further, but we at least want to qualify from our group."
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup's prospective journey to the sands of Dubai has already animated the Emirati people. Realising Mendes' pre-tournament goal would compound their ebullience.