UAE keep Fifa World Cup hopes alive after beating Syria

UAE's Caio Canedo (second right) celebrates after scoring a goal against Syria in the Fifa World Cup qualifier on Thursday. (UAE National Team Twitter)
UAE's Caio Canedo (second right) celebrates after scoring a goal against Syria in the Fifa World Cup qualifier on Thursday. (UAE National Team Twitter)

The victory takes the UAE to nine points in Group A behind Iran and South Korea

By James Jose

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 9:43 PM

Last updated: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 10:51 PM

The UAE tightened their grip on third place in Group A of the AFC World Cup Qualifiers by blanking Syria in Dubai on Thursday night.

Goals from Caio Canedo and Yahya Al Ghassani in either half saw The Whites romp to a 2-0 win at the Al Maktoum Stadium.

It had been a mixed campaign so far for Bert van Marwijk’s men with them having won only one of their six games — against Lebanon, while they had drawn three and had suffered two defeats.

And despite being hampered by a flurry of absentees including ace marksman Ali Mabkhout, midfielders Fabio Lima and Khalfan Mubarak, who were injured, and attacking full-back, the workhorse Bandar Al Ahbabi missing the fixture through suspension, the UAE gave a good account of themselves.

The victory takes the UAE to nine points. They next take on leaders Iran (19 points) at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on February 1 followed by fixtures against Iraq (four points) away on March 24 and second-placed South Korea (17 points) at home on March 29.

Syria began well and had their first attempt at goal in the opening minute but Omar Khribin, who plies his trade with Abu Dhabi-based club Al Wahda, saw his shot blocked following a pass from Mahmoud Al Mawas.

They made another move soon after when Khribin let slip a through but Omar Al Somah was judged to be off-side by the linesman.

Moments later, Al Somah saw his header saved following a pass from Amro Jenyat.

The UAE had their first look on six minutes when Waleed Abbas unleashed a left-footer but his attempt was thwarted.

Khalil Al Hammadi then saw his twin efforts averted, one a left-footed shot from the centre of the box, after being fed by Abbas, and then another in the ninth minute, this time assisted by Tahnoon Al Zaabi.

Syria were caught off-side again on 10 minutes with Khribin ahead of the line following a through from Mohammad Anz.

The UAE were caught off-side with Canedo ahead following a ball from Mahmoud Khamis.

The hosts came close on 27 minutes when Ali Saleh came up with a threatening effort from a difficult angle, following a pass from Al Hammadi. But the danger was averted by Syria.

Khribin and Al Somah combined for Syria on 38 minutes but the former’s shot from outside the box was saved.

The UAE finally managed to break the deadlock two minutes before the break with Canedo heading home from close range following a cross from Al Hammadi.

Khribin almost got the equaliser in the three minutes of added time in the first half but his shot from 35 yards was saved. Khribin then saw his header just miss the target just on the hour.

The UAE added cushion to their lead on 70 minutes with Al Ghassani netting it from the right of the six-yard box, from an assist from Canedo, following a counter-attack. The goal was awarded to the UAE after a VAR review.

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