UAE ready to tame Japan once again, says Mahdi

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UAE ready to tame Japan once again, says Mahdi
UAE team during team practice session

Abu Dhabi - The UAE are among the few names to have punished Japan twice

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 22 Mar 2017, 10:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Mar 2017, 12:37 AM

Japan, with revenge on the mind, will be a real test of character for the UAE head coach Mahdi Ali and his boys during the Fifa World Cup Russia Group B qualifier at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Thursday evening.
The coach is having selection issues with injury to midfielder Amer Abdulrahman and uncertainty over striker Ahmed Khalil and defender Ismail Ahmed ahead of the crucial tie.
Despite these issues, Ali is confident the 'Whites' are 'ready to face Japan'.
"We will try our best. We worked hard. We look forward to a positive outcome," he said on Wednesday.
The UAE are among the few names to have punished Japan twice - 2015 AFC Asian Cup and World Cup qualifier opener in Saitama.
Ali, however, said: "Football doesn't believe in history, what happened in the previous game is in the past."
After five games, Saudi Arabia sit top of the table and Japan second, both on 10 points. Australia is third and the UAE fourth with nine points. Teams standings vary by goal difference and each point will count from here on.
The UAE have trained hard and Ali said that will make the 'difference' in the outcome.
The UAE will look to benefit from the fantastic run Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout is having. The point man is top scorer in the Arabian Gulf League with 26 goals.
And Mabkhout might be one of the missiles that talisman Omar Abdulrahman referred to when he said: "We've got the weapons to go out and win this match. We're at home and in front of our fans, who are always there to support us and for whom we always give our all. And then we've got our fighting spirit, which will be there from start to finish."
When it comes to big names and Cup encounters, Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has the pedigree but 'Amoory' feels the UAE have the experience.
"We've played a number of high-level matches and that's given us a lot of self-confidence. We'll be giving our all to make it to the World Cup," Abdulrahman told FIFA.com.
He said the time has come to realise the dream of millions of Emiratis and earn a World Cup Russia ticket after 1990 Italy heroics.
"What we want more than anything is to qualify. It's not an easy task, but we will try to fulfil the dreams of millions of people. I've been dreaming for years of playing in the World Cup and I expect to make it happen."
The 'Garden City' of Al Ain is all set for big showdown.


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