Not the end of the world, says UAE coach
In Japan, we were fresh but now we are a bit tired, says Mahdi Ali
Head coach Mahdi Ali blamed the refereeing decision for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers loss to Australia and said it wasn't the 'end of the world'.
"It was a foul and shouldn't have been a goal," the national coach said referring to the incident during Tim Cahill's goal at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night. Australia's veteran star slotted in Brad Smith's cross but not before pushing away defender Mohanad Salem. But Malaysian referee Mohammed Amirul had ignored more bitter challenges than that.
"We have lost this match because of the mistake by the referee. We won an away match against Japan. Overall, I am happy with the performance," the coach said at a post-match Press conference.
Ali accepted that the 'Whites' failed to convert their chances. "Both the teams played a great game. We didn't convert from many of our chances whereas they did. We have to accept that sometime we win and at time we lose," he said.
Defending his players' poor conversions, he said: "Sometime it happens. We have to consider the weather and fatigue of the players. In Japan, we were fresh but now we are a bit tired."
Ali remained optimistic about making the 2018 World Cup.
"This is not end of the world. We have to believe in our dream and fight for that. We still have our chances. Nobody expected us to beat Japan in their home. So anything is still possible in this group."
He thanked and apologised to the fans.
"I hope the team get better from here on. Our future will be good," Ali said.
On the wins pocketed by Japan and Saudi Arabia and its effects on the Group B, he said: "It's too early to pass a judgment. There are still a lot of matches left. We remain hopeful."
Meanwhile, Australian coach Ange Postecoglou termed Tim Cahill as a willing participant.
"He is always there in case we need him. On a night when we were missing the skipper, his experience was of immense help in the midfield. He made a big difference," Postecoglou said.
The coach is happy to have three points more. "Winning away match is always great. We took the game to them and made them sit back. It looked they would have been happy with a point. We kept going and got the goal we deserved."
Revealing team's strategy, he said: "For us, the important thing was controlling the game. They had to chase the ball and could do it for a certain period only, especially with the heat. We were confident that we will wear them down. It was up to them to give us a fight."
Postecoglou felt the 'Whites' can still qualify. "They have a very good chance. This group is going to be very tough."
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