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UAE national coach Mahdi Ali.
UAE national coach Mahdi Ali.

UAE can cope without Omar Abdulrahman against Uzbekistan, insists Mahdi Ali

The Gulf Cup winning coach warns their Asian Cup rivals the UAE 'are not a one-man team' ahead of their clash in Abu Dhabi tomorrow night.

ABU DHABI // The absence of Omar Abdulrahman, the injured playmaker, will not weaken the UAE, the coach Mahdi Ali said, when they meet Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup qualifier at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Friday.

The diminutive Al Ain midfielder was forced to pull out of the national team after suffering a knee injury in the club's 2-0 away defeat to Esteghlal of Iran in last week's Asian Champions League.

"We are not a one-man team," Mahdi Ali said at the pre-match conference at the FA headquarters yesterday.

"Omar is a pretty good player with excellent skills but he not being in the team won't make us weaker as we have players to compensate for his absence.

"The important thing is to play as a cohesive unit and win the three points from this game. We have played Uzbekistan before and they are strong opponents."

The UAE head Group E on three points following their 1-0 away victory over Vietnam while Uzbekistan, who were favourites against Hong Kong at home, were held to a scoreless result in the opening round of the qualifiers.

"It was indeed a disappointing result and we want to make up for that with a good performance and result against the UAE," said Mirdjalal Kasmov, the Uzbekistan coach.

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