UAE to take on Qatar in Asian Cup opener

UAE to take on Qatar in Asian Cup opener

AFC tournament to kick off on January 11, next year as Iran face Bahrain in the group’s opener at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium early in the evening on Match Day Three.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

Published: Thu 27 Mar 2014, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:19 PM

AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay displays UAE’s name during the draw of the AFC Asian Cup Australia in Sydney. — AFP

UAE will launch their AFC Asian Cup 2015 campaign against Qatar in the second clash of the Group-C at the Canberra Stadium in the Australian capital on January 11, 2015 as Iran face Bahrain in the group’s opener at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium early in the evening on Match Day Three, following the confirmation of the tournament draw at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday. UAE head coach Mahdi Ali commented: I did not wish to have three (Gulf Cup) nations in the same group to give more chances for them to qualify. A small competition reflecting the big one in Asia.

“We have already announced we want to be in the best four teams in Asia and I hope we achieve our goal. We wish to qualify for the semi-final. I think that the UAE have spent a lot of planning for this generation, I think we have a good generation who have played a lot of tournaments.”

According to Yousuf Yaqoob Al Serkal, president of the UAEFA, he is confident that the administrative and technical staff and players of the UAE senior football national team deserve all credit. “They are well aware of the amount of responsibility they are shouldering towards their nation in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 during the month of January,” he said. “The draw was balanced and the 16 teams which have advanced to the final are the best in the continent.”

Regarding the UAE draw in Group-C alongside Bahrain, Qatar and Iran, he said: “I didn’t wish to see three Gulf teams playing in the same group due to the short period of time between the Gulf Cup in Riyadh in November and the AFC Asian Cup finals in January 2015. This is a negative factor, but we need to be realistic to handle the situation. We will try to fine tune the squad from physical and psychological aspects to face the challenge,” he added.

“I wish our boys all the best and the association would revamp all its sources to serve the national team and provide the best possible preparation plan for the players. We are also confident that Mahdi Ali knows what should be done under such circumstances,” he concluded.

Hosts Australia will meet Kuwait in Melbourne in the opening match of the competition at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on January 9. The Socceroos will then clash with Oman at Stadium Australia on Tuesday, January 13 before facing Asian football power-house Korea Republic in its final Group game on Saturday, January 17.

The Australia versus Kuwait match kicks off the tournament at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Wednesday January 9, 2015.

The top 15 teams in Asia were allocated their tournament assignments, with the final spot going to the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup 2014, played in the Maldives in May. As competition host, Australia automatically qualifies as the top ranked team for the tournament.

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