UAE's forward Ali Mabkhout runs with the ball during the World Cup 2022 Group G qualification football match in Dubai. AFP
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Ali Mabkhout scored a hat-trick as a resilient UAE made light work of Indonesia in the second round match of the joint Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Thursday.
Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi and substitute Tariq Ahmed were also on the target as UAE defeated Indonesia 5-0 to go on the top of the Group G with six points.
UAE are still unbeaten in the competition with two victories from as many matches. They defeated Malaysia last month in an away match.
UAE broke the deadlock through Hammadi in the 40th minute to take 1-0 lead. Indonesia goalkeeper Wawani Hendrawani intercepted a long-range shot that came directly into his hands but failed to get hold of the ball for long and a lurking Hammadi made no mistake, rolling the ball into the net swiftly to give the UAE 1-0 lead and bring respite to the camp.
After the first goal, floodgates were open for the UAE as Mabkhout once again lived up to the expectations of the fans and added three more goals to his World Cup qualifiers tally.
He has scored nine goals across all AFC tournaments so far in the season. Mabkhout, who plays for Al Jazira, has a stellar season as before this match, he had already scored six goals. He had netted twice in the World Cup qualifiers and smashed four goals in six appearances in the AFC Asian Cup.
He was on target in the 50th minute as he deflected a pass into the net to give the UAE a 2-0 lead.
Mabkhout was again in the thick of the action as he netted another goal in the 63rd minute as the lead swelled to 3-0, pushing the Indonesia on the back foot completely.
Mabkhout scored his second goal of the match off a free kick. He dodge the Indonesian goalkeeper completely to pouch the ball into the nets with a gentle caress as Indonesian goalkeeper Hendrawan dived on the other side in anticipation.
Indonesia had a chance to trim the lead two minutes later but they failed to capitalise on it. Five minutes later, again the stadium burst into a huge roar from the crowd. To the delight of the UAE fans, Mabkhout completed the hat-trick with his third goal of the match as the UAE took a commendable lead of 4-0.
UAE got the first chance to score a goal as early as in the first minute of the match. But Indonesian goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny the host their first goal.
UAE pressed harder in a bid to open the scoring and take lead but Indonesia seemed to have done their homework and did not allow the Whites a single inch of space.
They marked UAE’s Ali Saleh Amro, who was awarded the 2018-19 Arabian Gulf League’s Golden Boy, to frustrate the hosts.
The 19-year forward is a promising player and plays for Al Wasl. He is a trying hard to cement his place in the team in the new set-up.
He was handed a yellow card in the Malaysia match last month.
Omar Abdulrahman did not start in the playing eleven and was benched as a substitute. Since his return from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, Omar has been battling a niggling injury, which has kept him out of the action for most of the season.
He was not included in the starting line-up even in his club Al Jazira’s matches. Omar came on the pitch in the 58th minute as a substitute for Hammadi. Indonesia also made two substitution during the match.
Mohammad Saleh Al Menhali escaped a serious injury in the 18th minute when he was pushed to the ground while fighting for the ball. UAE were playing firebrand football and tried to intimidate Indonesia, who came into the match as underdogs on the back of two defeats.
But Indonesia refused to be overwhelmed by their much superior opponents and put up a gritty performance to keep the UAE at bay for much longer than it was expected.
Earlier, UAE tried hard to break the deadlock, with Mabkhout leading the charge but failed to penetrate the Indonesia’s water-tight defence till the 39th minute.
The battle for the top spot in the group is fierce as top three teams are separated by only one point.
After a hard-fought 2-1 win in Kuala Lumpur last month, the UAE returned home for their first competitive appearance in front of their own crowd since the 4-0 defeat against Qatar in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-final in January.
Upon the arrival at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed was received by President Joko Widodo of Indonesia.
It was a night to remember for a group of Indonesians who have been working in the hospitality/food and beverage sectors in Dubai.
The warm, strong friendship bonds between the UAE and Indonesia were on full display on Wednesday when Indonesian President Joko Widodo personally greeted His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on the tarmac at the Soekarno Hatta International Airport.
Visiting Indonesia Ministry of Trade-Directorate General of National Export Development director general Dody Edward said the Widodo Administration sees “Expo2020 Dubai” as a significant milestone that all sectors of Southeast Asia’s largest economy have been directed to take an active role in it, not only for their country’s continuous prosperity but for the world as well.
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