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A look back on the UAE class of 1997 at the Confederations Cup

A flashback into UAE's lone sojourn in Saudi Arabia as the Gulf nations battled it out among continental champions.

The UAE team at the 1997 Confederations Cup, the first overseen by Fifa, included several members of the 1990 World Cup side and, unlike at Italy seven years previous, the Emiratis were in contention for a place in the knockout stages until the final group match.

After a 2-0 loss to Uruguay, the UAE defeated South Africa 1-0 before a crowd of 11,000 at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.

Hassan Mubarak scored for the UAE in the fifth minute, and then Muhsin Mubarak, widely considered the greatest goalkeeper in the country's history, made the single tally hold up for a 1-0 victory for the side coached by the Czech Milan Macala.

A tie in the final group match, against the Euro 1996 runners-up from the Czech Republic (champions Germany declined to participate), would be enough to put the Emiratis through.

Mohammed Obaid's own goal in the 11th minute, however, gave the Czechs an early lead, and they built on it for the next hour.

Two goals by Pavel Nedved made it 3-0 at half time, and Vladimir Smicer scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the second half to take it to 6-0.

Adnan Al Talyani, perhaps the greatest forward to wear UAE colours, got a consolation goal in the 78th minute.

The UAE senior side has not been back to a global Fifa competition since.

 

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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