Mabkhout nets hat-trick as UAE thrash India in friendly - GulfToday

Mabkhout nets hat-trick as UAE thrash India in friendly


UAE striker Ali Mabkhout in action during their friendly match against India at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on Monday.

UAE’s star striker Ali Mabkhout scored a hat-trick as the hosts thumped India 6-0 in a friendly match at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on Monday.

Ali Mabkhout scored in the 12th, 32nd (penalty), and the 60th minute while Khalil Ibrahim netted in the 64th, Fabio De Lima in the 71st and Sebastian Tagliabue in the 81st minute to complete the rout.

After making his club debut with Al Jazira, Mabkhout proved himself to be a solid performer for his country across the age groups and started featuring for the first team from the 2008-09 season onwards.

In a career that has spanned 13 years, the prolific forward has broken several records. Two of them stand out among the neutrals – he broke Adnan Al Talyani’s record to become the UAE’s all-time top goal  scorer with 60 international goals. He is the all-time top scorer at the club level as well.

India head coach Igor Stimac gave game time to many new faces, making as many as eight changes to the Blue Tigers’ starting XI. He brought in Gurpreet Singh (captain for the day), Adil Khan, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Lalengmawia Ralte, Pritam Kotal, Liston Colaco and Mashoor Shereef and gave them the opportunity to stake a claim for upcoming matches in June.

Amongst those who retained their place in the XI from the 1-1 draw against Oman were Akash Mishra, Manvir Singh, and Suresh Wangjam, with the likes of Sandesh Jhingan, Rowllin Borges, Bipin Singh, etc. not in action.

The UAE, ranked 74 on the FIFA rankings, managed to get an early lead against the 104th ranked India when Mabkhout latched onto a through ball from Fabio De Lima and chipped it over the goalkeeper.

India went looking for the equaliser after the goal and soon had a decent opportunity when debutant Liston Colaco – the 11th debutant in the two friendly games – earned a free kick from a dangerous position. Anirudh Thapa attempted a move from the training ground, as he played Pritam Kotal through down the right flank, but the UAE defence averted the danger.

At the half-hour mark, Fabio De Lima cut in from the right and took a shot that the referee adjudged to have been blocked by Adil Khan’s hand. Mabkhout, who has been linked to Premier League and La Liga clubs in the past, again stepped up and slotted it home from the penalty spot on the 32nd minute mark.

The two teams headed into the dressing rooms at half-time, with the UAE leading 2-0.

Blue Tigers boss Stimac made two changes at the start of the second half, bringing in Yasir Mohammad in place of Anirudh Thapa while Halicharan Narzary replaced Chhangte.

Mabkhout completed his hat-trick at the hour mark, as he controlled the ball inside the box, and slotted it home. Four minutes later, Khalil Ibrahim’s first-time shot found the back of the Indian net, to make it 4-0.

Raynier Fernandes and Ishan Pandita came on as substitutes in the 58th minute in place of Liston Colaco and Lalengmawia. In the 72nd minute, Hitesh Sharma replaced Suresh Wangjam in midfield. Ashique Kuruniyan was brought on for Akash Mishra with 10 minutes to go.

De Lima added a fifth, before setting up substitute Tagliabue towards the end, and he scored his team’s sixth goal as the hosts won the match hands down.

The friendly against India was a part of UAE ‘s preparations for the joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

The UAE coach Bert van Marwijk is currently overseeing his third training camp since his reappointment, with an eye on this summer’s rescheduled World Cup qualifiers.

UAE are one of the strongest sides in Asia and they reached the semi-finals in the 2019 Asian Cup they hosted. But they have been struggling a bit recently.

In the four international matches they have played after the COVID-19 lockdown, they have lost twice — against Uzbekistan and Bahrain — and won one — against Tajikistan. Their last match — against Iraq — had ended in a goal-less draw in January.

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