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Zaccheroni hails team after semis win
By A Staff Reporter January 04, 2018
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Kuwait City: Alberto Zaccheroni could not have hoped for a better start as the UAE coach.

Guiding The Whites from the dug out in the first international tournament, Zaccheroni is one step away from securing his first Gulf Cup of Nations title for the two-time winners.

He was all praise for team after sealing spot in the final of the prestigious regional showpiece event.

Riding on a decisive penalty by full-back Mohammed Barghash the UAE defeated Iraq 4-2 in the semi-final to set up a final showdown with Oman.

The UAE could have progressed to the final with more ease but they spurned a few chances despite dominating Iraq in the regular time of 90 minutes.

“Iraq are a strong side and it was a tough contest. They showed a lot of determination in the regular time. However the important thing is that we managed to book a final spot,” said Zaccheroni.

“I fielded three strikers and did not let Iraq create too many chances. The attackers were outstanding in the field. I have been in charge for just three months and need more time to build a strong team,” said the Italian.

Zaccheroni was appointed as the UAE manager in October as Edgardo Bauza’s successor.

Bauza, who was named as the UAE coach following the resignation of Mehdi Ali, had left the team and joined regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

“We have been creating chances. We did create some half-chances through Barghash. I am particularly happy with Ahmed Khalil and Ismail Hammadi, who were impressive in the field,” added the coach.

The UAE are unbeaten in the tournament. They defeated their final opponents Oman in the opening match and played out two goalless draws against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia respectively in the group stage matches, which was enough to secure a semi-final berth.

Oman, after going down in the opener against the UAE, pulled them back and defeated mighty Saudi Arabia and hosts Kuwait to finish the group on top. They sent Bahrain packing in the semis to book their final berth. The final will be played on the same venue on Friday.

Zaccheroni is looking to ease out the pain of missing on the World Cup berth by winning the regional championship for the third time. The UAE have been the champions in 2007 and 2013.

Zaccheroni had made his intent clear at the beginning of the tournament, saying that he would use the tourney as a platform to build a strong squad for the Asia Cup to held on the home soil in 2018.

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