Bert Van Marwijk speaks during a press conference. File
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
UAE coach Bert Van Marwijk ruled out any complacency after a convincing 4-0 victory against Malaysia in a joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup qualifier match on Thursday.
UAE needed to win all their qualifiers to keep their hopes of progressing to the next round alive. They got off to a winning start, which catapulted them to the second spot in their group, making the picture quite rosier.
“No, we are not going to be complacent because every game is a must-win affair. It is just the beginning and we still have to go a long way," said Van Marwijk.
However, he said he is satisfied with the performance of the team but urged them to be more ruthless.
“I am happy with the result of the match. It was a very important game and this victory will set the tone for the rest of the tournament,” added the coach.
“At the end of the first half we did not play the way I would have wanted them to play. But in the second half we played really well. In this weather, you have to keep it simple otherwise you will get tired,” he added.
UAE scored three goals in the second half to complete the rout as Ahmed Ali Mabkhout and a naturalized Fabio Di Lima both scored a brace each.
It was Mabkhout who broke the deadlock in the 19th minute to put the UAE ahead but they failed to add more goals as the first half ended in 1-0.
“We should have scored more goals in the first half nevertheless I am satisfied with the performance of the team as they showed 75 per cent disciplined on the field,” apprised the Dutch.
UAE did spurn a few chances and failed to convert their efforts into score. Malaysia goalkeeper Farizal Marlias twice denied UAE when he negated the efforts of Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak.
Marwijk vowed not take anything for granted as they are facing Thailand next. Thailand had defeated UAE in the first round of the fixtures.
“I don’t get carried away with one, two good results. Our focus will be on the Thailand match. They are a strong team and they have defeated us also in the first leg. We have to work very hard to beat them,” asserted the Dutch.
A rampant duo of Ali Mabkhout and Fabio ran riot as the UAE mauled Malaysia. The second goal by Fabio in the 82nd minute opened the floodgates for the hosts.
In the process, Ali Mabkhout, who had a stellar domestic season became the second scorer among the active players in the international matches.
Ali Mabkhout scored a whopping 25 goals and had 10 assists as he steered Al Jazira to Arabian Gulf League title.
With the brace against Malaysia, he took his tally to 73, surpassing Argentine great and Barcelona legend Lionel Messi and India’s Sunil Chhetri, who have scored 72 goals apiece.
However, the prolific Al Jazira striker played down the personal milestone and vowed to focus on team’s goal.
“It is a good start. We did what we came for. We will try to come back stronger against Thailand. It is just the beginning and we are still not there,” said Ali Mabkhout.
“I don’t think about the stats. I am here to do my job and that is to help my country qualify for the showpiece event, I will be more happy if we can make it to the World Cup,” he added.
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