UAE eyeing win against Thailand today to keep Fifa World Cup dream alive

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on June 7, 2021
The UAE players celebrate a goal against Malaysia on Thursday in Dubai. (UAE FA Twitter)

If UAE win and Vietnam fail to beat Indonesia in the other match tonight, the home team will take the top spot

Having bounced back in style in the AFC World Cup qualifiers with a 4-0 win over Malaysia on Thursday, the UAE now will look to consolidate their position when they face Thailand (8:45pm UAE Time) at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai tonight.

After contrasting restarts to their respective qualifying campaigns, the UAE and Thailand find themselves level on points going into their return fixture.

The Whites, Malaysia and Thailand have earned nine points each, but Bert van Marwijk’s men now find themselves in the second place behind leaders Vietnam, thanks to their superior goal difference.

With group leaders Vietnam just two points ahead and having played one more game, Thailand will be eager to repeat their 2-1 win in the reverse leg in October 2019.

Back then it was veteran striker Teerasil Dangda, missing from the current squad through injury, who opened the scoring for the War Elephants.

Ali Mabkhout equalised at the stroke of halftime but Ekanit Panya won it for Thailand six minutes into the second period.

Under head coach Akira Nishino, Thailand have not had the best of times recently, failing to win any of their three matches since that UAE victory.

A 2-1 reversal against neighbours Malaysia was followed by back-to-back draws against Vietnam and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Ali Mabkhout, who scored two goals in the match against Malaysia, continues to impress for the UAE.

His brace against Malaysia sent him top of the Asian Qualifiers scoring charts with eight, level with Japan duo Takumi Minamino and Yuya Osako.

It also made him the second-highest scoring active footballer in international football with 73 goals, behind only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and ahead of Argentina’s Lionel Messi and India’s Sunil Chhetri.

The UAE head coach Van Marwijk was delighted with the team’s comprehensive win in the first match.

"This was a strong restart after a long stoppage," said van Marwijk who helped Saudi Arabia qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

"It is important that we continue performing well and winning the rest of our matches to achieve our objective of reaching the decisive stage of the qualifiers.”

In the other match on Monday, Vietnam will look to extend their Group G lead as they face bottom-placed Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium.

Nearly 19 months since their most recent game in the Asian Qualifiers, Vietnam return to action on Monday with their status as group leaders still intact, albeit with a narrower margin following the results of the previous matchday.

The clash against Indonesia takes place at a happy stomping ground for the Vietnamese, with their fans savouring sweet memories from two years earlier at Al Maktoum Stadium where Vietnam defeated Jordan in a penalty shootout to reach the 2019 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinals, their first on foreign soil.

Indonesia, in turn, have ended a run of five consecutive defeats with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Thailand on Thursday. Coach Shin Tae-yong’s men went behind twice but goals from Adek Agung and Evan Dimas brought them level each time to earn them their first point of the campaign. (With inputs from AFC website)

Remaining Group G matches

June 7

UAE vs Thailand

Zabeel Stadium

Vietnam vs Indonesia

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

June 11

UAE vs Indonesia

Zabeel Stadium

Malaysia vs Vietnam

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

June 15

UAE vs Vietnam

Zabeel Stadium

Thailand vs Malaysia

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

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