UAE set for Timor-Leste test

UAE set for Timor-Leste test

Team to put behind their friendly defeat to South Korea, says coach Mahdi

By Hisham Al Gizouli (chief Reporter)

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 2:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:11 PM

The UAE national team players train ahead of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Timor-Leste. — Supplied photo

The UAE national team players train ahead of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Timor-Leste. — Supplied photo

Dubai: The UAE senior football national team’s head coach Mahdi Ali has reportedly turned over the chapter of their 3-0 defeat at the hands of South Korea in a friendly ahead of their 2018 Russia Fifa World Cup Qualifiers against Timor-Leste at the Alam Shah Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

The match is set to kickoff at 12 noon UAE time. The 2015 AFC Asian Cup bronze medalists were drawn in Group-A alongside KSA, Palestine, Malaysia and East Timor.

“Despite the heavy defeat, we have generated great benefits from the tough test against South Korea and most importantly, we were able to monitor closely the true form of the newly called players and debutants in the like of Bander Al Ahbabi, Amir Omer and Mohammed Al Akbari. We were able to identify the mistakes which were committed by the players and worked on them before the official clash against East Timor,” Ali was quoted as saying.

However, no official statement was released by Mahdi Ali or his assistants to explain the poor form of the squad against South Korea. But, in all cases, Ali has apparently missed the effort of the continent’s top scorer Ali Mabkhout who is recovering from injury.

“We have also made five replacements to try as many players as possible before the kickoff of the qualifiers,” Ali said.

However, the players returned to action and will carry their final workout at the match venue on Monday after 24 hours rest following the defeat. All players took part on Sunday, including Ali Mabkhout amid strong reports that he’s regained fitness and will probably start the match against Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, Timor-Leste started their campaign with a 1-1 draw against hosts Malaysia while Saudi Arabia topped the group’s standings with a tough fought-out 3-2 victory over fighting Palestine. Ali and his staff watched the match between Malaysia and Timor-Leste from the grandstand. And despite the big difference in form and ranking between the UAE and Timor-Leste, Ali said he’s not going to underestimate their opponents pointing out that both sides have equal chances. “We have 90 minutes in front of us which decide who is going to bag the full points of the confrontation,” he said. Ali refused the argument that UAE is going for an easy win saying there’s nothing easy in football and they must be careful enough and must not to take their opponents lightly.

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