No room for mistake as UAE take on Kyrgyzstan in a crucial AFC Asian Cup pre-quarterfinals clash
The UAE players attend a training session at the New York University in Abu Dhabi.
In three group games, Zaccheroni tried various changes
By Ashwani Kumar
Published: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 8:37 PM
Last updated: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 10:45 PM
UAE head coach Alberto Zaccheroni is hopeful the 'Whites' will be able to convert half-chances in their knockout game against Kyrgyzstan and qualify into the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 but his counterpart Alexander Krestinin believes his boys can spring a surprise at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Monday night.
Zaccheroni noted his young and experienced players were united in their efforts to win the title at home.
"We are looking at each game as a final. There is no way we can compensate for any mistakes. I have full faith in my players. I have seen so much focus and will power in them after we qualified to Round of 16. I am lucky to have young and talented players. We have good balance in the team. We attack with intensity and defend too. We don't put 10 players in the defence like other teams do."
In the three group games, Zaccheroni had tried various changes in defence and midfield, and now the Italian feels the team has got the right winning combination. The coach, however, wished for a better coordination between his midfielders Ismail Al Hammadi, Ali Salmeen and Majed Hassan with striker Ali Mabkhout to score goals.
"We need to be better than this. We need more coordination between midfield and attack. We need to create more opportunities with passes from midfield and look to attack more. We need to be quick with our counter attacks. We are working to improve our performance and score," he noted, elaborating on the struggle to fill void of injured playmaker Omar Abdulrahman.
Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, got a few naturalised foreign players and Kyrgyz-born Russian players. Zaccheroni spotted the Russian connection and said: "They have a Russian style of play. They have developed a lot in past few years. They have players who play in Europe. We respect them a lot but are prepared too."
Zaccheroni said Kyrgyzstan players were quick and he had a mechanism to counter them.
"We have special calculations for this one. We have studied their strength and weakness. We will make few adjustments to counter them. They are very tough. I hope we do well in front of our fans."
The coach raised stakes by adding: "When I signed my contract, it was with intention to win the title."
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan coach Krestinin said the players were eager to play their first knockout round."We are here to play such big matches. We have also learnt a lot about the UAE. Of course they are the hosts but statistics show the hosts don't always win. Of course they will enjoy fan support but other organisational things aren't any different."
He said the team had set new goals after the qualification into the round of 16. "We have completed our first task. Now we have a new task, that is, to get to quarterfinals. We believe we can surprise and there should be no doubt about that," Krestinin cautioned.
Star striker Vitalij Lux, who netted a hat trick against the Philippines, said he has a penchant of scoring in big matches. "I can be decisive in such games. I have scored in the Bavarian Cup and a hat trick here. It's a good feeling to score. I am focused on my job."