Omar doubtful for UAE's clash against Saudi Arabia
The star UAE footballer Omar Abdulrahman will take a call on his own fitness on Tuesday.
Dubai - The UAE's mainstay, Omar Abdulrahman, could miss the crucial encounter in his own backyard
By Ashwani Kumar
Published: Mon 28 Aug 2017, 10:15 PM
Last updated: Tue 29 Aug 2017, 12:29 AM
The UAE will pull out all the stops against Saudi Arabia to keep alive their dreams of qualifying for the Fifa World Cup 2018. However, as the two Group B teams meet at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday, the UAE seem to be on shaky grounds.
The UAE's mainstay, Omar Abdulrahman, could miss the crucial encounter in his own backyard. He is said to have picked up an injury during last week's AFC Champions League quarterfinals' match against Al Hilal. Worse, another Al Ain star defender Ismail Ahmed is a doubtful starter.
At the same time, the UAE coach Edgardo Bauza was non-committal about Omar's chances. He said a call on Omar will be taken only at the last moment. In all likelihood, the decision will be made by Omar himself. None knows and aspires for bigger platforms to perform then 'Amoory'. It will be a psychological disadvantage for the UAE if Omar doesn't take the field.
Bauza, however, will have to test the waters as injury list has swelled with Ahmed and few others unfit.
The coach said the team, however, will be looking for a positive result.
"We will try to win all possible points. The match will not be easy but we will give everything," the coach said during a Press conference in Al Ain on Monday.
The Argentine, however, said lack of cohesion and match practice is worrisome with only Al Ain players gone through any action this season.
"They (Saudi Arabia) are more ready as the Saudi Professional League started earlier," he said. "We will be playing against a strong and well-trained team. This is a disadvantage for the UAE because only Al Ain have played an official match."
He hoped the team spirit and hard work of players will see the UAE through.
For the UAE, it will be crucial as to how Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout will perform. Both the players have good goal scoring record against the Saudis.
If they win, the UAE have a mathematical chance to qualify. With two matches to play, the 'Whites' are fourth with 10 points and play already eliminated Iraq next week. If the other results go their way, the UAE will keep alive hopes of representation in another World Cup.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia coach Bert van Marwijk was confident of a victory.
"We are few steps away from reaching our dream of participating in the World Cup for the fifth time and will be focused on the objective."
He said the game will not be easy as the UAE will be eager to win in front of fans, who will surely make it difficult for Saudi players.
"There may be a pressure on the Saudi players, but the pressure is an integral part of the game. We are used to playing in such circumstances," the coach added.
In the last meeting in October 2016, Saudi Arabia had won 3-0 in Jeddah. But the UAE will look to sweep aside past records and go for three points.