MUSCAT // The UAE were lifeless and devoid of ideas as they were held to a goalless draw against former coach Bruno Metsu's Qatar which now puts their Gulf Cup hopes in jeopardy. Dominque Bathenay's men were hoping to get some pay back on Metsu for walking away from his job in September, but in the end seemed unwilling to take any risks by pushing for three points. They were more than happy to settle for a draw.
The UAE are still in a strong position in their group, with four points to Qatar's two, but are likely to need a positive result against Saudi Arabia in their final game to qualify. Things aren't rosy for Frenchman Metsu either, who has now gone four competitive games without a win, after last night's match at the Police Stadium in Wattaya. The UAE were the better team in the first half. They looked marginally more dangerous.
Metsu's side suffered an early injury blow with their captain and central defender Abdulla Koni taken off on a stretcher after suffering a head injury when he went up for a header and collided with Ismail Matar. The UAE continued to press hard and Haider Ali's rocket approaching the half hour deflected off a defender just past the left post. Mohammed al Shehhi then failed to latch on to a loose ball off a Hamdan al Kamali free-kick that hit the defensive wall inside the box.
Qatar offered little in the opening period, but the UAE goalkeeper Majed Nasser came under severe pressure on resumption.Nasser did well to block a close- range shot from Qatar's Urguyuan-born striker Sebastian Soria four minutes into the second half. Midfielder Waleed Jassim was then agonizingly close with a wicked effort from just outside the penalty area in the 57th minute. Bathenay made a double substitution, replacing Omar and Ismail al Hammadi with Ali al Wahibi and Ahmed Dada as he tried in vain to freshen up the UAE's attacking play as the game moved into the last quarter.
The pressure and frustration kept building for both teams as time ticked by. A victory would have sealed qualification for the UAE but they seemed more intent on running the clock down. A clumsy foul by al Kamali towards the end means he will now sit out the next match after his second booking of the tournament. On this showing, however, the UAE, may be sitting out the latter stages of the tournament.