Coach Zaccheroni praises UAE players' united effort


Coach Zaccheroni praises UAE players united effort
The UAE's Ali Mabkhout in action against Kyrgyzstan's Kozubaev Tamirlan during their AFC Asian Cup round of 16 match in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi - UAE conceded twice but Zaccheroni said the back four played just fine

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 9:22 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 11:25 PM

The UAE head coach Alberto Zaccheroni is relieved with the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal qualification and praised the fighting spirit of his players during the 3-2 win over Kyrgyzstan.
"It was a difficult game. I had warned players about Kyrgyzstan being a stronger opponent. We were expecting such an aggressive game from them. Kyrgyzstan players were compact but I thank the players for their positivity and spirit."
The UAE conceded twice but Zaccheroni said the back four played just fine.
"Our defence line was solid. Kyrgyzstan players were good with long balls and headers but our defenders did well. We conceded goals but even big teams have suffered similar fate. We will play the quarterfinals in three days and try to correct these mistakes."
The coach said the UAE showed intent from the start by fielding three attackers in Ismail Matar, Ali Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak.
"We were more aggressive than before. We created lots of opportunities and scored goals. We had one or two chances to score but we were not lucky. We created more attempts than Kyrgyzstan. The UAE showcased strong character after an additional time goal. "
The Italian praised Khalil, the penalty converter, as a valuable asset.
"Khalil is a very good striker. He is one of the best attackers in Asia. When I took over as the UAE coach, he was injured and didn't participate in any training sessions. He wasn't 100 per cent ready for the Gulf Cup. He was injured and didn't play many games for his club. I count on him a lot. We try to make maximum use of him in the games. Every time he plays, he scores."
The coach thanked fans for their passionate support and down played the low attendance of some 17,500.
"Yes, the stadium was not full but there was good support. It wasn't full because of cold weather and fans preferred to watch the game on TV. There were no fans for our friendlies but lots turned up for the Gulf Cup and other tournaments. I thank the fans for their support and dedicate the qualification win to them. I hope the support gets better."
However, the coach is yet to do research on quarterfinal opponent Australia.
"I don't know anything about them. It's been a long time that I have watched them play. We both have played 120 minutes and have three days to rest."
The UAE will play Australia at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Friday. In a setback ahead of the quarters, the coach informed defender Khalifa Mubarak was injured.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan coach Alexander Krestinin said the players on debut had gained lot of positive experience.
"We had chances but couldn't convert. In extra time, we understood the UAE weren't playing well in midfield but our defence was slow too. We made one more mistake than them. We had a good tournament but we regret this loss. This is our first performance but surely not the last one. We will be playing better and better in future."

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