ABU DHABI // Jamila Marek led the way with a hat-trick as the UAE began their defence of the West Asian Women's Championship with a 6-0 win over Syria on Tuesday night.
Dalila Zerrouki opened the scoring with a fifth-minute tap-in for the first of her two goals, while Hakima Boucetta, the captain, also got on to the score sheet in the resounding victory at the Sultan bin Mohammed stadium.
"The win was important in the first game and now we can build on this result for the coming games," Hassan Ajenoui, the coach, said.
"Of course we need to improve from what we did tonight, but this result will give my players the confidence.
"It has been the first competitive game since I took charge a month ago, so it was a pretty good result. I can't complain after the girls had won the game 6-0.
"They were pretty relaxed and this happens when they know they have the game under their control.
"We could have won by a bigger margin had we scored from the chances we created."
The UAE's next game is on Thursday against Iran, and Ajenoul is now preparing his side for what could possibly be the clash for the top place in the group.
"We will decide of our next game plan according to the opposition we play," said the Moroccan-born Portuguese, who played for Morocco and was later coach of their national team in 1995.
"Obviously Iran is the strongest team in the group and we need to play at our best if we want to top the group.
"We have a full day to prepare and work on the mistakes we did in the first game. And I am hopeful for another good performance from my team."
The UAE held a 3-0 lead at the break and completed the rout with three second half goals against a defence-minded opposition.
Marek scored her first goal in the 40th minute when she converted a cross from Sara Hasanain and the same two players combined for Marek's second just before the interval.
Boucetta, the defender, scored from a set piece five minutes into the second half, before Zerrouki added her second five minutes later. Marek completed her hat-trick in the 85th minute.
The victory could have been even more impressive for the UAE had Hasanain been on target with a 64th minute penalty but her spot-kick crashed against the crossbar and she sent the rebound wide. Syria had a golden opportunity to draw level a couple of minutes before the UAE scored their second goal. Manar Al Mhanna was inside the box but Nadget Fedoul, the UAE goalkeeper, did well to snatch the ball from her feet.
The UAE were the dominant side having enjoyed the majority of both possession and territory, with Syria testing the host team's goalkeeper just once in the entire 90 minutes.