KHOBAR // The young colts of UAE marched from strength to strength in the AFC under 19 Championship when a virtually second-string side managed to beat Syria despite having already qualified for the quarter-final stage. The UAE completed a perfect Group B qualifying campaign with their third consecutive victory as they overcame their 10-man opponents 2-0 at the Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium on Tuesday.
With the passage to the last eight stage already secured, the UAE coach Mahdi Ali made eight changes from the team who defeated Korea Republic but it did not seem to upset their rhythm as they dominated the majority of the first-half. However, the UAE were lucky as Syria had the game's first chance after 12 minutes but Mohammad Zbida fired wide. That serves as a wake-up call and UAE replied three minutes later as Mohammad Obaid saw a powerful drive from the edge of the area fly over the bar.
Syria were clearly second best as the half wore on and suffered a further setback in the 32nd minute when Ajouz's stiff challenge on the midfielder Mohammed Fayez was punished with a red card. UAE kept up the pressure after the interval and threatened inside the first three minutes as Nasser Mubarak saw his effort from the edge of the box saved by goalkeeper Ahmad Madania. Madania again came to the rescue after 53 minutes when skipper Ismail Matar unleashed a strike from long distance but the keeper managed to tip the ball over. However, UAE went in front seconds later as Matar cut into the area from the left before producing a powerful shot that took a deflection off midfielder Solaiman Solaiman.
UAE added to the tally in the last minute when Fawzi combined with Ahmed Ali and headed in the last nail in Syria's coffin, who finished the tournament without a single point. * Agencies