Players of the UAE team attend a practice session.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
A confident UAE will seek their first win in the third round of the 2022 World Cup qualifier match when they take on Syria on Tuesday.
The UAE dominated their opener against Lebanon but spurned a chance to run away with three points as the match ended in a goalless draw.
The famous UAE attack, who produced 15 goals in four matches in the second round, failed to create the same magic and even Ali Mabkhout could not penetrate the tight defence of Lebanon.
He twice went agonizingly close to scoring but could manage to hit the frame of the net. Caeo Canedo, the naturalized Brazilian player, also failed to break the deadlock as UAE were frustrated by Lebanon.
Despite the draw, UAE coach Bert Van Marwijk remained defiant. He spoke about the first match against Lebanon and vowed to bounce back in the next game against Syria.
“We did not lose the game nor did we concede a goal against Lebanon said,” said Marwijk.
“There are still nine more matches to be played and we still have pretty good chances of making it to the finals. Sometimes things do not go as we want and we created a lot of chances in the first-half failed to convert them into goals and there is no explanation for that,” he added.
“We could not achieved the desired result in the first match as we missed many chances of scoring despite fielding the best available team,” he added.
However, UAE were battling some fitness issues to some palyers against Lebanon. The UAE were without two key midfielders for long spells of their previous matches.
Abdalla Ramadan and Khalfan Mubarak were nursing injuries and could train with the team just for one day before the match. They were deemed only fit enough for a substitute role. The duo are set for expected to take feature in the starting line-up against Syria after having recovered from injuries.
Ali Salmin, who was instrumental in the second round, spent full 90 minutes on the field and is determined to fight harder to bag the three points.
The UAE had come into the third round on the back of five consecutive wins as they defeated Malaysia 4-0, Thailand 3-1, Indonesia 5-0 and Vietnam 3-2 in the second round to finish on the top of their group.
Before that, they had beaten Jordan in a friendly.
Commenting on the preparation of the team for the next game, Marwijk said: “I am satisfied with the preparation of the team. We have trained hard and the palyers are in good shape.” He expressed his anguish over the ground facilities in Amman.
“We knew that the stadium would not be good, but we are professionals and we have to deal with all circumstances, no matter what," he stressed.
Marwijk backed his team and exuded his confidence in the players despite a draw in the first match. At the same time, he also said that he is wary of Syria.
“I am confident in the ability of my team and expect them to compensate. I often do not comment on the levels of competing teams.
“I respect the Syrian team a lot, and I know that they are physically strong and have the potential to beat any team on a given day,” he apprised.
Marwijk is considered as one of the shrewdest coaches of the world and credited to have chartered out a route for Saudi Arabia’s qualification for the Russia World Cup in 2018.
UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif promised to give everything in order to achieve a positive result against Syria.
“All the players know the importance of the match and the need to achieve a positive result, which will put the Whites in a commendable position in the group.
“A victory will also make us one of strongest contenders for the World Cup finals. We are all ready for the match and raring to go,” he added.
“We are determined to fight till the last second of the 90 minutes and emerge winners. The mood is positive in the camp. We will not leave any stone unturned to achieve a result that would please our fans,” he said.
“This game is very important for us as we have not won anything in this round and we want to set the tone for the remaining tourney with a victory against Syria. It is always good to have some points in kitty in the beginning,” he stressed.
The third will continue on Oct. 7 and 12, Nov.11 and 16, Jan.27and Feb.1, and March 24 and 29.
Twelve teams have made it to the third round of the qualifiers. Seven group toppers from eight groups and five best runners-up teams qualified from the second round. Qatar, who are the host country will not play the third round. As the hosts automatically qualifies for the event.
The 12 teams gave been divided into two group of six each. Group B is comprised of Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and China.
The UAE were drawn with the football powerhouse of the Asian Iran, South Korea, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in the Group A.
An upbeat Pinto said he is excited to be working as the new UAE coach and relishing the challenge of taking the team through to the next stage of the joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
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A buoyant UAE kick off their quest for a berth in the 2022 Qatar World Cup with a third round match against Lebanon at the Zabeel Stadium on Thursday.
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