x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Disappointed Amir shields ‘nervous’ players after U17 World Cup exit

UAE coach looks for silver lining after third successive defeat

UAE coach Rashed Al Bedwawi gestures during the Fifa Under 17 World Cup match against Slovakia at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Satish Kumar / The National
UAE coach Rashed Al Bedwawi gestures during the Fifa Under 17 World Cup match against Slovakia at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // Rashid Amir, the UAE coach, took the blame on himself after his side ended the group stage of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup without a point from three games.

“I take the blame because it was me who chose the players, me who prepared them, me who made all the game plans,” the Emirati said on Wednesday after his side went down 2-0 to Slovakia, who ended the match with 10 men.

“It was our last game and we did everything we could do, even had four attackers, yet we fell short of achieving our objectives.

“We had trained a lot and prepared well. We achieved a lot of good results in the lead-up for this championship. It still puzzles me why we couldn’t play true to our potential. Perhaps they players were nervous coming in to the World Cup and performing in front of their fans. I will have to give thought to a lot of things before I hand over my report to the FA.”

Amir found some bright spots in the games against Honduras, Brazil and Slovakia.

“We certainly can take the experience as the positives. The players got to know the level of the competition and got to know the level of the individual players,” he said.

“The players gave their best, the FA did all they could and our fans stood behind us throughout our matches. It is a bit disappointing we underperformed.”

Amir has been a coach for more than 20 years and has enjoyed success as well as disappointment.

“Whether the FA will keep me as the U17 coach or not is up to them to decide, but I am prepared to accept any decision they make,” he said when asked if he would be retained as the coach.

“I feel there are a few players from this age group who can be recommended to the U19 squad preparing for next year’s Asian Cup. These are the good things we can take forward.”

Meanwhile, Ladislav Pecko, the Slovakia coach, has given his players two days off until they know their fate in the Under 17 World Cup.

“The boys deserve a break. We are in a beautiful country and city, and we would like to visit another city until we know if we are in the round of 16,” he said. “We feel we have done enough to go beyond the group stage, but we still have to wait for the results of the other games.”

Of the UAE game, he said: “I think we were a better team and created a lot of chances. We showed how strong we were mentally when we had to play an entire second half with 10 players.”

He believes his team, the first from Slovakia to play in the U17 World Cup, have improved since a 6-1 thrashing from Brazil in their first game.

“We drew the second game against Honduras and tonight we played much better. We had to win this game to prolong our stay and the players did a fantastic job to achieve it.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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