Hosts UAE have been placed in Group A with Asian giants Thailand, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.
UAE will open their group campaign against Turkmenistan at 6pm on Friday at Al Wasl Stadium. The home team were in fine form in the practice matches recently as they beat Qatar (5-3) and Tajikistan (4-0).
“For us this is a huge experience and we are all very excited,” said UAE’s Ahmed Mahmood.
“We will try to do our best in this tournament to prove that the UAE is doing well in futsal.
“The players are all very excited and can’t wait for the first game to start. Everyone wants to play in this tournament and all the players are ready for the challenge and aim to prove that during tomorrow’s game.”
In the group stage, UAE are likely to face the toughest challenge against Thailand. The Thais have over the years proved themselves as one of the best teams in the sport.
Thailand Manager Suttipun Wanwinwes was confident that his team would have a very good tournament.
“We will be looking to have a good tournament as many people back in Thailand will want to see how we are getting on in preparation for the World Cup in November,” he said at the pre-tournament Press conference in Dubai on Thursday.
“We have come to Dubai in the hope that we will do the best that we can. We have worked very hard in the build-up to this tournament and have won two tournaments but they were only for teams in the South East Asian region.
“Once we found out our opponents in Group A we began following the teams and we can see what a great job the UAE have done. We have played Turkmenistan recently in Bangkok and they beat us so we know they will be strong competitors in the group and we have to be careful.”
Meanwhile, Japan have been placed in Group B with Chinese Taipei, Tajikistan and Lebanon, while Group C has 11-time champions Iran, Australia, Qatar and Korea Republic. Uzbekistan, Indonesia, China and Kuwait have been placed in Group D.
In Group B, Chinese Taipei will play their first match against Tajikistan on Friday.
“Every team in our group is very strong and we will have three tough games,” Tsai Chia, the 42-year-old coach of the team, said on Thursday.
“We know the first match will be difficult and we will focus on having a strong defence.”
Damir Kamaletdinov, Chia’s counterpart, admitted that he has only modest hopes. “In Tajikistan futsal is still an amateur game and we do not have a lot of experience but our target is to qualify for the quarter-finals,” the 44-year-old said.
In Group C, Australia will face tough tests against the likes of Iran, Qatar and Korea Republic.
“We had a very good preparation and obviously, like other teams in the tournament, our aim is to take Australia to the FIFA Futsal World Cup finals later this year in Thailand,” said Australia coach Steve Knight.
“We will go to our first game (against Qatar) with solid defence and will see how Qatar will attack and then with the progress of the match we will see how we can win the match.”
In Group, China’s Brazilian coach, Franco Da Silveira is taking nothing for granted. “Anything can happen in this group and I don’t see any weak team here,” said Guilherme on Thursday.
“I am very happy with the preparations we have done, the players are really fit, fresh and ready to go. We know Indonesia very well and prepared for today’s match.”
Indonesian coach Andri Irawan knew his team have found themselves in the ‘Group of Death’. “I think this is the strongest group,” said Irawan. “We will be taking each match as it comes and against China it will be difficult but not impossible. Our aim is to successfully book a place in the quarter-finals and then we will see how far we can go.”
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, which will be held on May 29. The semi-finals will played on May 30, while the bronze medal match and the grand finale will be staged on June 1.