UAE’s World Cup hopes in tatters

Hisham Al Gizouli
Filed on September 7, 2011
UAE’s World Cup hopes in tatters

Three amazing goals by Mohammed Ghaddar, Akram Maghrabi and Redha Anter earned Lebanon a rare 3-1 victory over UAE in the second round of the Brazil 2014 Asian Qualifiers at the Sports City Stadium in Beirut on Tuesday.

After two defeats in two starts, the boys in white have virtually ejected out of the chase for one of the two berths which are reserved for the group in the next stage of the competition.

“We are all responsible for the tragedy right from the FA which made the wrong choice of the head coach down to the players who were spineless,” said UAE observers in a post-match chat on TV.

“Katanec is not the right man to guide the national team to victory at this stage and the FA men were in a hurry when they decided to hire him. The national team under Katanec was like a dead body with no fighting spirit, no character or identity. The players have contributed to the horrible defeat. They didn’t show any sense of responsibility or affiliation to the colours which they were supposed to defend,” said a popular commentator Faris Awad. The UAE took the lead within 16 minutes of the first half when Mahmoud Khamis headed home Subait Khater’s perfect free kick. But, the Lebanese bounced back and Mohammed Ghaddar levelled the result for the hosts from the spot in the 37th minute. This was also the result at half-time.

Ironically, the German coach Theo Bucker who has recently took over as caretaker, managed to motivate the players after a heavy 0-6 defeat in the opener against South Korea at a time when the Lebanese national team was not even supplied with training sets.

“We have played a big game, but we should stick to the task. The mission ahead is too difficult considering the presence of heavyweights in the likes of Kuwait and South Korea. People must be rational and reasonable,” the Lebanese skipper Redha Antar who played the major role in the victory said later.

However, Bucker had vowed a more attack-mind strategy in the second half and Akram Maghrabi made the best of a horrible defensive mistake to seal the second goal in the 52nd minute. And towards the 83rd minute, the man of the match Redha Antar sent home the bullet of mercy to pull the curtains down over the UAE run and most likely on the relationship of the Slovenian coach with the Whites.

“The players have responded positive to my strategy,” said the Lebanese coach Theo Bucker in a post-match chat.

“The players have improved over their past form and they are physically better after the end of Ramadan. We have played against a strong side like South Korea by the end of Ramadan and the players were not in their best form physically. And although the UAE is a little bit superior to us in terms of facilities and support, we were able to keep their players under check. I have noticed that the UAE players were under pressure and from this angle I have built my strategy to attack them,” he said.

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