DUBAI // The UAE coach has promised his side will "fight until the last second" of Sunday's must-win game against Thailand, when the hosts will battle for a place in the second round of the AFC Futsal Championship.
Having defeated Turkmenistan 3-1 in their opening game, the UAE lost by an identical margin against Kyrgyzstan Saturday night and now need to beat Thailand to qualify for the quarter-finals.
"Kyrgyzstan are a very good team … they have a lot of experience, good control," said Paulo "Padu" Eduardo, the UAE coach. "In my opinion, we played a very good match. We had lots of chances, but we failed to score.
"It is going to be another difficult game against Thailand, who are the second-best team in Asia. But I will talk to my players and we will be fighting until the last second. We will give it all we have."
Playing against the experienced Kyrgyzstan, who have appeared in three AFC Futsal Championship semi-finals previously, the hosts held their own in the opening session. Jabir Mohammed was particularly impressive in the UAE goal, while Tariq Abdulla had a couple of exciting attempts blocked.
Mukanov Amirzhan, the Kyrgyzstan coach, gave his team a pep talk during the break and it paid dividends almost immediately as Rustam Ermekov broke the deadlock with a sizzling long-range two minutes after the restart.
"We had a few good chances in the first half, but we didn't convert them," said Amirzhan. "In the break, I told the players they need to do better with the chances that come their way.
"I saw the home team was getting tired and we started playing one-to-one to create more space for us. The main task was to use the flanks."
A minute after Ermekov's goal, Abdulkarim Jamil had a great chance to equalise after a good run by Yousif Mohammed, but he shot straight at the Kyrgyz goalkeeper.
Another opportunity fell Jamil's way a few seconds later, but he could only find the keeper yet again. He was denied once more by Shamonin Nikolay in the 30th minute when the Kyrgyz keeper gathered the ball from his feet.
Two minutes later, Kyrgyzstan were 2-0 up as Marat Duvanaev's free kick deflected off a defender into the goal. In the 35th minute, Kanetov Emil added a third. Tariq Abdulla scored a consolation for the UAE in the 37th minute.
"Their first goal was a shot from 16 metres and the second goal was just bad luck for us as the shot deflected off one of my players," Padu said. "But I have no complaints against my players - they gave their all.
"I hope we can play another good match tomorrow and then anything can happen."
FEDERATION TURNS DOWN JAPAN REQUEST TO REPLACE INJURED PLAYER
Miguel Rodrigo, the Japan coach, has urged the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to reconsider their regulations after his application seeking a replacement for their injured star Hoshi Shota was turned down.
Shota was injured in Japan's opening game of the AFC Futsal Championship, which is taking place in Dubai, against Lebanon on Friday and the coach claimed Shota suffered a fractured knee, but AFC regulations do not allow replacements to be called up.
"For me, he is the best player in Japan and his injury is a big setback," said Rodrigo after Japan's 6-1 win over Tajikistan on Saturday, which assured them of a place in the quarter-final.
"Until last year, the regulations allowed you to replace severely injured players, but yesterday I came to know they have changed this rule.
"For me, it is a sad thing. I was talking to one of the officials and he said, 'Maybe what you are saying is right, but it is difficult to identify if it is a serious injury or not'.
"I think in Asia, there is technology available to prove such injuries. They do have it in football, so this is really strange.
"It can happen to any team, so speaking generally, this is a step back for futsal and the tournament. If you change a regulation, it should be for the better."
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