Al Ain show will inspire UAE in Asian Cup

Al Ain show will inspire UAE in Asian Cup
Real Madrid's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Club World Cup final against Al Ain in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi - Al Ain players had been on the field for 330 minutes and two penalty shootouts

By Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sun 23 Dec 2018, 7:22 PM

Last updated: Sun 23 Dec 2018, 9:25 PM

Al Ain players put a commendable performance in the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2018 and skipper Ismail Ahmad feels the experience will help and inspire the national side in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019.
The UAE are placed in Group A along with Thailand, India and Bahrain. Apart from defender Ismail, goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, midfielders Bandar Al Ahbabi, Rayan Yslam, Ahmed Barman, Mohamed Ahmad and Amer Abdulrahman are all in the reckoning to make the main squad.
Ismail said even though Al Ain lost the Cup final to Real Madrid, the players gave good account of themselves and the UAE football.
Prior to the final, Al Ain players had been on the field for 330 minutes and two penalty shootouts but they kept fighting hard against Real and didn't fell down until they were pushed.
"We were well prepared by the coach and staff for the final. We didn't suffer from fatigue even though we had played so many matches in short time. It was a balanced match until the second goal scored by Real (through Marcos Llorente) that gave them upper hand. We tried hard to return into the match but couldn't. This is football. We can't complain or have regrets about it as we gave everything on the pitch. We are all happy and proud on finishing second behind Real Madrid. I dedicate my achievement to my mother and family," Ismail said.
The 35-year-old defender said players are keen to continue their form in the AFC Asian Cup.
"The experience we had from this tournament will be beneficial for the national team. Our performance will motivate others in the national side to perform and compete against international sides in the Asian Cup," Ismail added.
Meanwhile, Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic said his boys have proved they can perform at higher levels.
"This team now believes in its abilities. For me as a coach, I am happy to see they followed instructions of the coaching staff. The players know that they can play at higher levels. It's good for them and good for me to know there is quality in the team."
Reflecting on the finals, Mamic noted that Al Ain failed to score from good positions.
"We played a good tournament but it was very hard for us. We played fourth game in 10 days. We didn't have enough power to make life difficult for Real. We had some good chances in the first half with Hussein El Shahat but we didn't use them. If we have to win at this level then we have to convert our chances."
Arabian Gulf League champions tamed challenges from Team Wellington, Esperance de Tunis and River Plate to reach the final. They fell to Real only due to poor finishing in front of goal.
"We have to learn from this tournament as to how to play bigger teams. We are proud of what we have achieved," he added.
The UAE squad for the Asian Cup will be announced this week.

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