x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ahmed Khalil will use his senior experience in Olympic qualifier

The young UAE striker has a history of playing and scoring against Uzbekistan teams.

Ahmed Khalil, in action against Australia in an Olympic qualifier, has played for the senior team.
Ahmed Khalil, in action against Australia in an Olympic qualifier, has played for the senior team.

TASHKENT // Ahmed Khalil and the UAE can be forgiven for feeling confident ahead of a game versus Uzbekistan Wednesday with a London 2012 Olympics berth at stake.

The country's best young striker and his age-group comrades have enjoyed steady success against the central Asia side.

In 2008, Khalil scored both goals in the UAE's 2-0 victory over the Uzbeks in the AFC U19 Championships in Saudi Arabia.

At the U23 Asian Games in China in 2010, the UAE thrashed Uzbekistan 3-0, with Khalil scoring two and the late Theyab Awana the third.

Earlier that year, in Tashkent, Khalil and Hamdan Al Kamali played with the senior team in a 1-0 Asian Cup qualifying match victory. Khalil set up the goal in added time.

"Our boys have always done well against the Uzbeks," said Kefah Al Kaabi, a television and radio analyst. "Even in that game in Tashkent."

Uzbekistan kept Khalil in check in their last encounter, a scoreless draw in Al Ain in Group B qualifying last November.

In that one, he was marked nearly out of the game, and his mate up top, Ali Mabhkout, had several good chances but was frustrated.

Uzbek supporters would be quick to point out that none of the matches mentioned above was played in wintry weather, and it will be cold and perhaps wet here tomorrow, barring some surprise change in the forecast.

With Khalil, the Al Ahli forward, declared fit, the only injury concern left for Mahdi Ali's side is Amer Abdulrahman, the playmaking midfielder, who suffered a foot injury nearly a month ago and has not played in a match since.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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