ABU DHABI // The UAE junior team's hopes of emulating the seniors all but ended last night when they were beaten by Thailand 5-2 in the IIHF Under 18 Challenge Cup of Asia.
With Hong Kong disqualified for fielding ineligible players, Thailand are now firm favourites to win the title as their next opponent are India, who were beaten 31-1 by the UAE in their first game.
The UAE senior team won the Challenge Cup of Asia, ironically beating Thailand in the final, 10 days ago in India. But the Thai juniors extracted revenge at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.
"We played against two teams of two different levels, and we came short against the better team," Matti Fagerstrom, the UAE coach, said.
"Thailand scored early and defended well to preserve the lead. We had chances but couldn't score and this made all the difference, but of course we need to improve in all areas."
Likit Neimwan, the Thailand coach, said: "I think both teams knew this was potentially the deciding game.
"We wanted to play a clean passing game and we were successful in that. It appeared to me that the UAE players hadn't played together in a long time, so this game plan worked out well for us."
Mohammed Juma Al Dhaheri and Nasser Al Beloshi scored the UAE's goals.
Hong Kong will still be allowed to play their games in what was a five-team tournament but their results will not count towards the championship.