x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Bathenay wants UAE to focus

After their 3-1 win over Yemen on Monday the UAE's attention is on their games against Qatar, on Thursday, and Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

MUSCAT // The euphoria of a first win in 10 games has already subsided for the UAE. After their 3-1 win over Yemen on Monday their attention is on their games against Qatar, on Thursday, and Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The coach Dominique Bathenay said his players can take heart from the opening win, a predictable result against a side that has only a solitary Gulf Cup point to their name.

"It didn't matter who we were playing. The important thing was to get full points and we are happy we achieved it," he said. "This was a key game and the points were important as our next two opponents are the toughest. I hope we can use the Yemen match as a catalyst to move ahead in this competition." The forward Ismail Matar came off the bench to play, having been a doubt following the death of his father at the weekend.

He had returned to Abu Dhabi, but returned to Oman to rejoin his teammates. "I am really happy to have Matar back. It was his decision to play," said Bathenay. "He had volunteered to play and he said playing half an hour would help him in the next game." Bathenay said Yemen were not an easy team to beat because what they lacked technically and physically, they made up with the steely determination and fighting spirit.

It could have been a different story if they had scored in the first few minutes. Moad Ali al Amri's stinging shot from a counter attack crashed against the crossbar in the second minute and a second attempt that did not carry as much sting as the one before was cleared from the line by Fares Jumaa a couple of minutes later. "We haven't had such good fortune for a long time and I hope this will stay with us during this competition," said Bathenay.

The coach did not believe the injury time goal they conceded shows his side lacks concentration, in particular at the end of matches. "We must take into consideration that the defence can't take full responsibility if the team can't score," he said. Bathenay has more worries with Jumaa having to sit out a one-match ban for his 68th minute sending off while yellow cards were shown to the goalkeeper Majed Nasser and substitute Hamdan al Kamali.

"Yemen were very physical and sometimes players respond. They were worse affected and should learn that such approach doesn't pay at the end," said Bathenay. "We'll miss Fares but bans and injuries are all part of the game." apassela@thenational.ae