UAE held to a goalless draw by Lebanon in World Cup qualifier
UAE's next game will be against Syria in Jordan on September 7
Having scored 15 goals in four matches in the previous round, UAE failed to convert any of their chances as Bert van Marwijk’s team were held to a goalless draw by Lebanon in the first Group A game of the final World Cup qualifying round on Thursday.
It was not the start Van Marwijk had dreamt of when The Whites kicked off their bid to qualify for their first World Cup since 1990.
Lebanon, ranked 98th in the world, came up with a heroic defensive display against their superior opponents at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai to earn a precious point.
The dropped points could prove costly for the home team in a group featuring footballing heavyweights South Korea, Iran, Iraq and the dark horse, Syria.
With only the top two teams guaranteed to book their places in the World Cup next year, the third-placed teams in each group will be locked in a playoff battle. The winner will advance to the inter-confederation playoff for a World Cup spot.
UAE will face Syria in Jordan on September 7, while Lebanon will travel to South Korea on the same day for their next match in Group A.
On Thursday, the home side created their first chance in front of the goal beautifully though without the finishing touch to match.
The prolific Ali Mabkhout played Mahmoud Khamis down the left flank, with the latter returning the favour with a low pass into the area that the Al Jazira striker fumbled out of play.
Mabkhout once again missed a golden chance to take his country ahead when he received a pass from Lima but his shot went wide to keeper Mostafa Matar’s relief.
Sharjah FC defender Shahin Abdulrahman missed a golden chance to put the UAE ahead when Bandar Al Ahbabi whipped a corner towards the near post and Abdulrahman flicked it towards goal, but Matar was able to make the save.
The best chance of the first half came deep into injury time when Caio Canedo could not keep his shot down while flying into the penalty area to meet Al Ahbabi’s cross, a shot which came from agonisingly close range.
In the second half, and after a flurry of corners and failed attempts on goal, Mabkhout yet again came incredibly close to breaking the deadlock, this time cutting inside from the left flank and trying his luck from just outside the area, but his shot brushed the outside netting. (with inputs from AFC website).
UAE 0 Lebanon 0
Iran 1 Syria 0
South Korea 0 Iraq 0
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