AL AIN // The UAE’s 2014 World Cup Asian qualifying Group B campaign got off to the worst possible start last night as they were beaten 3-2 by Kuwait in Al Ain, leaving Srecko Katanec fuming at the manner of the defeat.
Yousef Naser scored either side of a Bader Al Mutawa goal for Kuwait to take a 3-0 lead before Ismail Al Hammadi and Ahmed Khalil struck two late goals to bring the game to life in the five minutes of added time. But it was too little and too late for the UAE.
Katanec, the UAE coach, blasted his team after the match, saying: “I told the players that we played bad, a bad performance.
“We didn’t move the ball well ... but at the end, the reaction from the team was good; we scored two goals.”
He said he would be haunted by Kuwait’s first and the third goals.
“The first goal, to shoot, to rebound and get a goal, it is bad luck for us. Maybe we were supposed to lose,” he said. “The second, from 35 metres, you will not see many goals like this. My compliments to the Kuwait player who shot like that.”
And the third: “To give away a goal like that, at this level you cannot do this.”
Kuwait were on top until the last six minute after scoring an early goal off a counterattack from their own half.
Naser’s got the opener through a deflected shot before Al Mutawa scored with a dipping long range effort after a quick free kick to double the lead six minutes into the second half and Naser sealed the game when he pounced on a loose ball.
Al Hammadi pulled one back when he unleashed a low shot and Khalil struck the second with a header from close range with a minute of normal time left, but Kuwait held out to take all three- points.
Kuwait used their speed on the counterattack effectively and were solid at the back. They used the long ball well and were rewarded with their early goal. And having taken the lead, they defended well, too.
The home team’s best chance in the first half came when Mohammed Al Shehhi was sent scampering inside the area, but the Al Wahda forward was stopped by the Kuwait defence before he could fire off a shot at goal.
And Mahmoud Khamis’s effort from inside the area was pushed out by Nawaf Al Khaldi, the Kuwait goalkeeper, late in the second half.
Katanec named an unchanged line-up that won 3-1 against Qatar in a friendly a week ago at the same venue. The Slovenian played Ahmed Khalil, the first-choice striker, as a second-half substitute after the player had returned to training following the death of his father.