UAE start Gulf Cup campaign today

The 20th edition of the Gulf Cup got underway at the 22nd May Stadium in the Red Sea port city of Aden in Southern Yemen on Monday under strict security measures.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

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Published: Tue 23 Nov 2010, 11:17 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:33 AM

The UAE will start their campaign to regain the title, which they have won in 2007 in Abu Dhabi with a tough clash against three times winners of the Cup and Asian champions Iraq on Tuesday at 6pm UAE time.

UAE coach Srecko Katanec said his aim is to win all the games despite the absence of key players like UAE ace Ismail Matar and Al Ahli’s scoring machine Ahmed Khalil.“We are well prepared for the tournament. All the 25 players who have been short-listed are key players for their respective clubs,” the Slovenian coach said.

Al Wahda players are busy with their club preparing for the upcoming 2010 FIFA Club World Cup while Ahmed Khalil, Zeyab Awana, Amer Abdul Rahman and Ali Khusaif are engaged with the Olympic national team in the ongoing 16th Asian Games in China.

“I expect the overall performance of the players to be excellent. Many players who have been living in the shadow of their famous teammates are made to believe that this is their golden opportunity to show the best of them.

“I don’t believe in names though it’s very important to have experienced players in your side. There’s nothing easy in football, but it’s not mission impossible.

I’m talking about 25 professional players and I’m quite confident that they would live up to the challenge. This is the best chance for the low-profile players to rise up to the challenge,” he said.

Speaking about their chances against Asian champions Iraq in the opener, Katanec said he was aware what quality opppostion they would face tomorrow. “The star-studded Iraqi national team is one of the front-runners for the title. All the players who won the AFC Asian Cup in 2007 are still in the squad and our job is to stop them,” he noted.

Iraqi coach Wolfgang Sidka said they have come to claim their third Gulf Cup title, but they need little luck to get the job done.

Speaking to newsmen at the pre-match press conference, the former Bundesliga player and Werder Bremen coach said he has been watching the UAE during their friendly against India last weekend and has good idea about their opponents. “The first game is always difficult and in this particular case, winning our clash against UAE would mean we have covered half the distance to the title stage,” he said.

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