UAE look to bounce back against Syria in World Cup qualifier

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UAE players during a training session in Amman. (UAEFA Twitter)
UAE players during a training session in Amman. (UAEFA Twitter)

Dubai - Bert van Marwijk's men will be desperate to get their campaign back on track

By Team KT

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Published: Tue 7 Sep 2021, 12:04 AM

UAE will be aiming for their first victory in the third and the final round of the AFC World Cup qualifying campaign when they face Syria in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday.

Having dropped two points in their goalless draw against Lebanon at home, Bert van Marwijk’s men will be desperate to get their campaign back on track.

“I respect the Syrian national team, but we are satisfied with the progress of the preparations,” Van Marwijk said ahead of their crucial second match.

Despite dominating the match against Lebanon at Zabeel Stadium, The Whites could not find a breakthrough even as Ali Mabkhout rounded the goalkeeper but struck the woodwork instead, leaving his side to walk away from Zabeel Stadium with a point, not three.

For Syria, the trip to Azadi Stadium looked set to be a stalemate like the other two games in the group, but the Qasioun Eagles’ defences caved in after 56 minutes with Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s curled effort deflected off a defender and into the back of the net for Iran’s winner.

Van Marwijk’s men were without the services of two key midfielders for long spells of their previous encounter as Abdalla Ramadan and Khalfan Mubarak were deemed only fit enough for late cameos, instead it was youngster Abdullah Hamad who was handed his debut against the Cedars. The Al Jazira duo are set for an expanded role against Syria as they recover from injuries.

Fellow midfielder Ali Salmin played the whole 90 minutes on Thursday and is determined to fight harder to get the three points against Syria.

“Only one match is gone, there are still nine more to go, 27 points to compete for,” said Salmin.

“We must fight hard to get as many points as possible to boost our chances of reaching the Fifa World Cup. For us, and for all UAE football fans, this is a long-awaited dream.

“We are fully aware how strong Syria are, we are fully focused on this match and we show respect to every opponent we face, but our objective is always to get the three points.”

Meanwhile, Syria boss Nizar Mahrous bemoaned his side’s narrow defeat to Iran as “undeserved”, vowing to make amends.

“It is imperative for us to win, to get the three points against the UAE,” said Mahrous.

“We need to bounce back from that result. We are ready; players and coaching staff are all raring to go again. The UAE are a good team with talented individuals, but we are playing in our adopted home and expect a lot of Syrian fans to be present in Amman.”

The two sides faced twice in the 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifiers with UAE unable to win over the two legs. A 1-1 draw in Syria was followed by a 3-1 victory for the Qasioun Eagles in UAE’s home turf. (with inputs from AFC website)

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