DUBAI // For Dominque Bathenay, the result of tonight's friendly against Germany is not a consideration at all. The match, according to the UAE coach, is a win-win deal for his side, with invaluable experience to gain from playing against the No 2 ranked side in the world. "Germany are a big side, one of the best in the world," said the Frenchman, who will step down later this month after the two 2010 World Cup qualifiers against South Korea and Iran.
"So this match gives us an opportunity to test ourselves against a great team and know our true level. The team may be missing some of their key players, but they are still Die Mannschaft [The Team]. So playing against them will benefit the younger players, who need exposure to such strong sides to improve as players." Bathenay, however, fears these objectives might not be met if the Al Nasr stadium is packed with German supporters. He points to the match against AC Milan in January 2008, when almost all the fans were cheering for the Italians.
"I am sure a lot of people will come to the stadium," he said. "But I hope some of them will be supporting us too. Against Milan, there was no one cheering for the home team and this put a lot of pressure on our players. "Our players are used to playing in front of empty stands, like we see in the Pro League. Playing in empty stadiums has a negative impact on them; there is no encouragement for them.
"When they see fans packing the stands for such games and supporting the other side, they are not able to cope." The Germany game will be the first of three matches UAE will play inside eight days. On Saturday they host South Korea for a 2010 World Cup qualifier before travelling to Iran on June 10. Korea are already in Dubai and warm up against Oman tonight at Al Wasl (KO 8pm). firstname.lastname@example.org