Colin Wells, the UAE coach, has warned his players against complacency ahead of what they hope will be three matches in four days to decide whether the ACC Trophy returns to these shores. The undefeated Emirates take on Malaysia in Kuwait today, knowing victory will smooth their path towards another final in a competition they have dominated since its inception in 1996. The team have won the title four times and are in prime form, but Wells says that will count for little against a Malaysia side who pushed Afghanistan, the tournament favourites, close on their last outing.
"They are a decent side who are not to be taken lightly," said Wells. "We want to come top of the group so that we play second place in the other one." If they navigate their own fixture successfully today, the UAE could be faced with a re-run of the last ACC Trophy final in tomorrow's semi-final. Hong Kong, who are the defending champions, must beat Oman to set up a last-four meeting with the Emirates, who they beat in the final in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
The morale of the UAE players is sky high after successive wins, over the Afghans and the minnows from Bhutan. However, Malaysia hold a special place in the national team's affections. The UAE won successive titles when the Trophy was staged in Kuala Lumpur, in 2004 and 2006, and also reached the final there in 2008. Arshad Ali, the player of the tournament there in the two latter events, is hoping to revive his form with the bat today. "We have three games left, hopefully, and I will try to get maximum runs from that," he said.
"Saqib Ali [who has scored 234 runs without being dismissed so far] has been doing very well, so the rest of the boys have been able to play around him." email@example.com