It was Brazil who won the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup in Saudi Arabia, while England's men's produced another excellent campaign off the back of an impressive European Championships in Italy.
England's men's team returned from the NEOM Cup in Saudi Arabia last week with so many positives after four strong performances against world class opposition with the team picking up two outstanding victories against two teams who receive significant funding from their governing body in comparison to England's self funding and on going sponsorship requirements and tour needs.
The highlight of the NEOM Cup for Aaron Clarkes team was the victory over Spain by 3 goals to 2 and England Beach Soccer's most significant victory for over 20 years showing the progress our young team have made and continue to make under Clarkes leadership in recent years.
The NEOM Cup now in its third year and an exciting Saudi Arabian Government backed sporting venture that on a wider scale incorporates the NEOM Games, the games their self are testament to the investment seen with a world class set up, organization , facilities and competition that no doubt will continue to grow from strength to strength.
England's first game saw victory over Guga Zlocowick's Saudi Arabia, not only a strong win by 4 goals to 3 but an impressive set of performances with the star of the game Cam O'Rourke also scoring the goal of the game with an assist from another impressive young player Jaz Camara.
England then faced current FIFA World Cup runners up Japan also currently ranked 6th in the world rankings the well drilled Japan side with the world class Ozu Moreira in the team proved to strong for our young England team of emerging stars despite a battling performance against a the brilliant Japan, England kept going to the end and improved as the game went on showing their best beach soccer in the 3rd period commonly a period teams tend to tire England grew in strength and came out with their heads held high.
In game three England played Germany a classic rivalry on grass that translates its self to the sand, England again showing they can compete with an experienced German side led by Oliver Romrig, England led for much of the game however the German keeper Ebener was in fine form both with saves and goals, a threat in attack and a giant in defense and despite England scoring 4 well executed goals it was the Germans who edged it by 5 goals to four setting up a final game with beach soccer giants Spain.
England went into their final game against Spain knowing the side who are ranked number four in the world would be their toughest test yet, Spain set about the game in their usual fast paced approach getting on the score sheet early to make it 1v0 and that's how the game stayed for long period's with England number one Tommy Jackson in fine form pulling of some great one handed saves to deny the Spanish giants.
England kept the fans waiting until the final period when a mix of experience and youth delivered the goals O'Rourke, Clarke and Day all getting on the score sheet to provide England with their biggest victory for over 20 years and take the scalp of a European Beach Soccer powerhouse defeating them by 3 goals to 2 and finishing 2023 with a victory worthy of the teams progress over the past few years and setting up an exciting vision for season 2024.
England finish the NEOM CUP and improve their world ranking by finishing 5th.
1st – Brazil
2nd – Japan
3rd – United Arab Emirates
4th – Germany
5th – England
6th – Spain
7th – Saudi Arabia
8th – Turkey