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AFC Beach Soccer Championship kicks off this weekend
Asia's premier nations do battle in Malaysia, with FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup places at stake.
The AFC Beach Soccer Championship gets underway on Saturday in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, as 13 teams battle for continental glory as well as places at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in the Bahamas.
At the draw in Nassau on Tuesday, the three Asian representatives were placed into groups B, C and D, with the AFC nations now knowing exactly the challenges they are likely to face should they finish in the top three next week.
The action kicks off at 14.00 local time on Saturday, with reigning champions Oman looking to defend their title in a group that includes Lebanon, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
"My main goal is to book a place in the FIFA World Cup," Oman coach Talib Hilal told Muscat Daily this week.
"The top three Asian teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in Bahamas in April. It is going to be a challenge, but if we qualify for the final, then we are assured of a berth in the World Cup. I can then focus on defending the title.”
Two-time winners Japan will become the competition’s most successful team if they can go one better than 2015 and win the title this time around - Marcelo Mendes’ men having warmed up for the tournament with victory at the Thailand 5s Beach Soccer Championship.
Japan are in Group C alongside 2007 and 2008 champions UAE as well as Qatar and Iraq while the five-team Group A consists of former winners Iran and Bahrain, hosts Malaysia, China and Afghanistan.
The three group winners will each progress to the semi-finals along with the best-placed runner-up, although the highest runner-up will not be allowed to play the winner of their group in the final four.
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