Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Australia v UAE: Ange Postecoglou ‘expecting a tough game’ against Emirates in must-win World Cup qualifier

Ange Postecoglou, the Australia manager, expects a tough challenge from UAE despite the indifferent form of the away side and the mounting pressure on Mahdi Ali.
Australian manager Ange Postecoglou looks on during the first round Asian Cup football match between Australia and Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9, 2015. Mal Fairclough / AFP
Australian manager Ange Postecoglou looks on during the first round Asian Cup football match between Australia and Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9, 2015. Mal Fairclough / AFP

SYDNEY // Ange Postecoglou, the Australia manager, expects a tough challenge from UAE despite the indifferent form of the away side and the mounting pressure on Mahdi Ali.

Both sides regard the World Cup qualifier at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Tuesday night as must-win if they are going to make in to Russia next year.

Australia sit third in Group B, three points behind Saudi Arabia and Japan in the automatic qualification places. The UAE are one point further back.

After the 2-0 loss to Japan in Al Ain on Thursday, Mahdi Ali was asked if he was considering resigning his position as UAE manager. He said he was solely focused on the trip to Australia, but a defeat here could signal the end of his spell at the helm.

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■ It’s just not cricket: UAE’s quaint training facilities

■ Analysis: UAE’s hopes diminish in Japan defeat

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However, his opposite number believes the UAE players have showed they can cope with adversity, given their exploits in the recent past.

“They have had this group of players together for a long time, and have had a great deal of success as a group,” Postecoglou said.

“That suggests to me they deal with things pretty well. We know they have some quality individuals and some players coming back who didn’t play [against Japan], so that will give them a boost.

“We are expecting a tough game. They made the semi-finals of the Asian Cup [in Australia in 2015], they beat Japan away from home.

“They have been up and down in terms of results, but we are expecting a tough game and I don’t think the situation is more pressurised for one team or the other.

“It is a World Cup game, there are three points at stake, and for us, we will be going for it.”

When the sides last met six months ago, a goal by substitute Tim Cahill gave Australia a 1-0 win in Abu Dhabi. Australia also ended the national team’s Asian Cup bid at the semi-final stage two years ago.

Mile Jedinak, Australia’s captain, said his side are well aware of the merits of their visitors.

“We have done some analysis on them, but we have played them quite regularly,” Jedinak, the Aston Villa midfielder, said.

“We know they don’t change an awful lot in their style of play, and even the players in the squad have been together for quite a number of years.

“This generation have grown up together. We know they always give us a good contest. We are going to have to try to assert ourselves on the game as we always try to do.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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Updated: March 27, 2017 04:00 AM

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