The decision by the UAE Football Association to ban television cameras from Tuesday night's match against Kuwait in an attempt to bring in the crowds seemed to have achieved its goal. The Al Wasl stadium in Dubai was a cauldron of white dishdashas and striped ghutras as "The 12th man" arrived in their thousands to support their country. Their presence was certainly uplifting for the team and it showed in their battling performance.
Most seats were taken long before kick-off. Indeed, some members of the UAE FA were left without a seat and had to improvise by sitting on steps. Fans kept pouring in even as the game started, delayed by the traffic and the struggle to find car parking places. There was a continuous chant of encouragement from the supporters until the final whistle. Although the atmosphere failed to lift the UAE to victory the send-off should raise morale for the battles ahead.