Games in the desert

This January Zenit will play in the first ever MatchWorld Cup in the United Arab Emirates as part of its pre-season practice session.


Matches of the new tournament will take place in the stadium Al Maktoum, located in the very center of Dubai (coordinates for GoogleMaps – 25.290801, 55.348992). The stadium holds 12,000 fans. The tournament has a group stage with three teams each in two groups, after which there is a one match play-off round. The two teams that took first place in the two groups play each other in the play-off round, thereby determining the tournament winner. The two second place teams play for third place, and the two third place teams play for fifth place.
– The United Arab Emirates has become a country that conducts important sporting events, providing high-quality organization of tournaments in all types of sports, – says Marc Biolley, the managing director of the games. – The recent Club World Cup showed that once again. The upcoming games will club championship winners from various countries. I bet the fans will like these matches.

Under the tournament regulations the teams have the right to make up to six substitutions each, including substituting the goalkeeper (the two head coaches can also agree together to allow even more than six substitutions). Once players are substituted for, they can`t come back into the match.

The groups for the tournament are the following:
Group A:
Shaktar (the current champion of Ukraine), Al Hilal (the current champion of Saudi Arabia), Zilina (the current champion of Slovakia).
Group B: Zenit (the current Russian champion and holder of the Russian Cup), Sparta (vice-champion of the Czech Republic), Persepolis (winner of the Iranian Cup, and the most popular club in Asia according to surveys by the AFC).

The place in the group is determined by the number of points (furthermore – in terms of importance), goal difference, and number of goals scored. If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play in the play-off stage then a series of play-off kicks takes place.

The schedule of matches (St. Petersburg time):
16.00 Shaktar – Al Hilal
18.30 Sparta – Persepolis

16.00 Zilina – Shaktar
18.30 Zenit – Sparta

16.00 Al Hilal – Zilina
18.30 Persepolis – Zenit

13.30 Match for 5th place
16.00 Match for 3rd place
18.30 Final

Fans that want to go the match can but tickets (for 100/50 AED (about 800/400 rubles) for sitting/standing places, respectively) at Dubai stores of the Virgin Megastore chain and on the website The ticket allows its holder to go to all matches for the day. Children up to 10 years of age get in free.