x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Coach Ali faced with injury woes at Asian Games

The UAE will need to become the first team to score against North Korea in the tournament if they are to reach the Asian Games semi-final today.

The UAE will need to become the first team to score against North Korea in the tournament if they are to reach the Asian Games semi-final today.

The Koreans have won all four games, scoring seven unanswered goals in the process.

Mahdi Ali, the UAE Olympic team coach, has spent the last few days devising a plan to unlock the North Korean defence in Gangzhou.

"Korea have been very impressive," he said.

"They defend very strongly. They are very fast and fit, and the entire squad is deployed around the pitch. But we must be able to win against any opposition if we have to go all the way in this competition.

"We too have done pretty well to progress to the last eight. We have improved after every game and the confidence is also very high in the camp. We have a game plan to counter the Korean defence and reach the semifinal."

Ali has injury problems with Theyab Awana, the midfielder, and Mohammed Ahmed, the defender, ruled out.

However, Omar Abdulrahman and Saad Suroor will return from injury while Mohammed al Shehhi and Ali al Amri are also available.

"We have a strong squad of 22 players with adequate cover-ups in every position," Ali said. "This is a team with very good understanding.

"They have been together for more than five years and it's very rare to have a team grow up together and also have a lot of success."

apassela@thenational.ae