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Coach of United Arab Emirates national soccer team Mahdi Ali attends a news conference before their Gulf Cup Championship soccer match against Bahrain in Manama January 7, 2013. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (BAHRAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) *** Local Caption *** QAT13_SOCCER-_0107_11.JPG
Coach of United Arab Emirates national soccer team Mahdi Ali attends a news conference before their Gulf Cup Championship soccer match against Bahrain in Manama January 7, 2013. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (BAHRAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) *** Local Caption *** QAT13_SOCCER-_0107_11.JPG

FA official fears weather may dampen UAE Asian Cup outcome in Vietnam

The weather could be the UAE's biggest challenge when they meet Vietnam in the opening match of their 2015 Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

The weather could be the UAE's biggest challenge when they meet Vietnam in the opening match of their 2015 Asian Cup qualifying campaign tomorrow, according to a member of the Football Association's board of directors.

Mahdi Ali's team, high on confidence after their Gulf Cup triumph in Bahrain last month, will take on an opponent they beat 5-0 in their last encounter, a 2010 World Cup qualifying match at home. In the away game, the Emirates won 1-0 in Hanoi.

Vietnam did beat UAE in the 2007 Asian Cup, at home, though, and if the forecast holds true, the hosts may have an advantage, according to Rashid Al Zaabi.

"Rains are the only problem we might face in Hanoi," Al Zaabi said. "Our players are not used to playing in the rainy weather.

"Otherwise, our team is in a better technical condition than Vietnam and the UAE players will enter the game armed with the confidence of winning the Gulf Cup.

"The morale is really high. At the same time, we know it will not be an easy match because we are playing away from home.

"So let's hope we do not see any rains on the match day as it could affect the performance of our players negatively."

To get used to the weather conditions in Hanoi, the UAE left their training camp in Shenzen, China, on Sunday, a day earlier than originally planned, and held their first training session in the Vietnamese capital yesterday.

The team played North Korea in a friendly match on Thursday during their training camp in China and, though they lost the game 1-0, Matraf Ali Al Shamsi, the director of the national team, said the camp had served its objectives.

"We are ready for Vietnam, especially as every member of this team was there for the Gulf Cup as well," he said.

"We used the North Korea friendly to apply some of our tactical plans and though we lost, we played a good game and had plenty of opportunities in front of the goal.

"The players are now keen to put up a strong show against Vietnam and return home with a positive outcome."

Mohammed Ahmed, Khamis Ismail, Abdulaziz Sanqoor and Ali Mabkhout did not take part in the match against North Korea because of some minor injuries, but they are back in training and will be available for the Vietnam game.

Abdullah Moosa, the Al Jazira left-back, missed the last training session in China because of illness and the medical team are keeping a close eye on him.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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