x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Different agendas for UAE football team and other OSN Cup sides

Mahdi Ali's men return to action for first time since 2-1 win over Uzbekistan in Asian qualifier on March 22, reports Amith Passela.

Stephen Hart, the Trinidad coach, says playing in friendlies such as the OSN Cup are good opportunities for players, such as Kenwyne Jones, above, to test themselves against different international opponents.
Stephen Hart, the Trinidad coach, says playing in friendlies such as the OSN Cup are good opportunities for players, such as Kenwyne Jones, above, to test themselves against different international opponents.

Mahdi Ali, the UAE coach, will make use of the OSN Cup, a four-team friendly tournament in Saudi Arabia to test his men ahead of their Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong next month.

The UAE meet Trinidad and Tobago in Thursday night's opening match, followed by the Saudi Arabia versus New Zealand game at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.

The winners of the first round will advance to the championship on Monday while the two losing teams will meet for third place.

The tournament provides Mahdi Ali's men an opportunity to reunite for the first time in more than five months.

They flew out from Dubai five days ahead of the competition in order to have maximum time for their preparation.

"My players are in good shape and spirit and we have a sound strategy in place for this competition," the coach said said. "It is important to win the opening match and of course we are looking forward to taking the trophy home.

"Winning the 2013 Gulf Cup has helped to boost the team's morale and I hope we are able to deliver a similar performance.

"The two games in this tournament will also provide us the opportunity to prepare the team for the important upcoming Asian Cup qualifying game against Hong Kong."

The UAE are returning to action for the first time since their 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan in an Asian qualifier on March 22.

That win moved them to the top of Group E after two games. They meet Hong Kong away on October 15 and three points will take them close to earning them a ticket to 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.

"It's good for us to play countries with different styles such as UAE. Each brings their own set of skills," said Stephen Hart, the Trinidad coach.

"And it's important for our team to learn to adapt and face new opposing teams."

For the Saudi coach, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, it is an opportunity to see the strengths his team possesses.

"We have trained hard and are looking forward to showcasing the strengths of some of our finest players, who will soon go on to represent us within the global circuit," the Spaniard said.

Ricki Herbert, the New Zealand coach added: "International football is not easy no matter where you go, and to play in the Middle East is tough.

"The pace and technical ability of all teams at this tournament will be high and this will be an important test for us."

apassela@thenational.ae

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