Local Sports

Bring it on, UAE coach tells Australia

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on September 5, 2016
Bring it on, UAE coach tells Australia
UAE coach Mahdi Ali during a Press conference at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

(KT photo by Ryan Lim)

The UAE beat Japan 2-1 to get off to a flying start and now they would be confident of taking on Asian champions Australia tomorrow

Coach Mahdi Ali said his team's morale is high and the Whites have prepared well for their 2018 World Cup clash against Australia at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.    

The UAE beat Japan 2-1 in their first game of the third stage of the qualifiers and now they would be confident of taking on Asian champions Australia in their second game in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Australia also got off to a fine start with a 2-0 win over Iraq in their first match of the third round of the World Cup qualifiers Perth.

Now the top two teams in Pool B will be vying for the top spot in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. 

"We have worked very hard for this game. The first win against Japan has given us a good confidence boost," he said at a Press conference on Monday.

Asked about Australian coach Ange Postecoglou's remarks the UAE would be 'fearful of the Socceroos and will sit back', the national coach said: "I respect his opinion. We will see how both the teams will play. But the UAE have played for a long time as a group. We have worked for a long time to create an identity for our team. We know what we need from Tuesday's match. We will see how it all pans out in the field."

Postecoglou had told Daily Telegraph that the UAE will be 'a little bit fearful' of the Asian champions.

"I think they'd be a bit fearful of us and have every right to be. I expect them to sit back," he said.

Ali said that the sport of football has taught him to respect all opponents irrespective of them being weak or strong. "We respect all teams. In football there is no easy or strong team. A well-prepared team, one that is ready to fight and have the will power to win, will do well," said Ali whose team is currently occupying the second spot in Pool B behind Australia.

The top two teams will earn World Cup spots while the two third placed teams in both groups will face each other to earn the right to play in the inter-continental playoff for a World Cup berth in Russia. 

On being told that Australia have a poor record in the Arab region, he said: "I don't believe in history. I only believe in what we can do at the moment. In football what you do at the present is what makes the difference."

On the team composition, he said: "We have no injuries other than Abdul Aziz Sanquor." Al Ain's Mohammed Fayez has replaced injured Sanqour.

The UAE will be playing their second game within a week and he said: "This is the nature of the Asian qualifiers. There's a lot of traveling to do. It's the same challenge for everyone else."

Asked if the UAE can emerge as a powerhouse, the coach said:  "We qualified for first time in 1990 and since then we have worked hard to qualify for the second World Cup. This time we have a very good chance and very good team. We deserve to qualify for the World Cup 2018."

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