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Mahdi's young guns take on Syria today

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on June 5, 2016 | Last updated on June 5, 2016 at 06.32 am
Mahdis young guns take on Syria today
UAE's Sultan Al Shamsi vies for the ball with a Jordanian player during their King's Cup match.

(- Reuters)

The Emirati tactician is looking at the larger picture on the canvas

The UAE may have gone down to a Jordanian side, 10 places below them in the Fifa World Rankings but coach Mahdi Ali is not fretting too much about it.

Instead, the Emirati tactician is looking at the larger picture on the canvas.

The Whites, playing in the 44th edition of the King's Cup after an invite from the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), had gone down to Jordan in their opening fixture at the Rajamangala National Stadium on Friday.

The 3-1 loss, against a side ranked 80, may have pointed towards a below average display and indeed it was. But this was virtually a second string squad that Mahdi Ali took with him to the Thai capital of Bangkok.

He had decided to leave his galaxy of Emirati stars at home to give them much-needed rest after taxing domestic and international commitments and instead selected youngsters who had shone in the UAE top flight.

The squad had linked up in the middle of May for a training camp and this was their first outing together as a team. And it was quite natural that the young team, still trying to find their feet, struggled to find the cohesion. Mahdi Ali, though, is using the tournament to test these new young players with an eye on the future.

"We are using the tournament to test new players and it is a good opportunity for us to prepare them for the future," Mahdi Ali said at a press conference after the game against Jordan.

"We made several mistakes during the game, but we will work on erasing those errors," he added.

The Emirati is looking at able back-ups to strengthen his squad, who have a demanding schedule ahead of them. The Whites kick start the third round of World Cup Qualifiers from September 1, a crucial step on their road to Russia 2018.

Stiffer tests like Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Thailand await the UAE in a run that extends until September next year.

So, Mahdi Ali is mapping the UAE's path as best he can. The UAE will play Syria for the third place in the King's Cup on Sunday and Mahdi Ali said that he will look to rectify the errors that his lads committed in the game against Jordan. A better showing could be expected on Sunday as Mahdi Ali continues to tinker with the squad.


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