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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

Alberto Zaccheroni confident UAE will be better against India after flat start to Asian Cup

Italian manager wants his side to show more 'fighting qualities' after failing to convince in 1-1 draw with Bahrain

Alberto Zaccheroni remains confident that his UAE side will qualify for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup despite their unconvincing start.

It took a late penalty from substitute Ahmed Khalil to earn them a point in their Group A opener on Saturday with Bahrain as they drew 1-1 at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE's next game is with India on Thursday, again at Zayed Sports City, and the team's Italian manager said he was looking for a different approach to the match from his players compared to Saturday.

"We have four days to work on the areas we need to improve and hopefully produce a better performance," he said.

“What we lacked on the pitch tonight was the fighting qualities from the players. We will address this when we are preparing for the next game against India and we’ll come with a different attitude.

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“The next two opponents are also different and we’ll have to adapt to those games in a different way. We’ll analyse this game and return stronger for the next game.”The UAE, as has been so often the case under Zaccheroni, struggled to create chances as Bahrain defended well.

“We had control of the game in the first 15 minutes,” said Zaccheroni. “We dominated dominated the middle of the pitch, however, we came short of scoring from the chances we created.

“The Bahrain side played a closed game. We also lost a lot of passes in the first half and when you lose so many it becomes very difficult to create scoring opportunities. The players made big efforts, though.

“We had chances at the beginning but generally the game was equal for both teams.

“In the second half we couldn’t establish a line and that was because Bahrain were playing closed game. To create scoring chances you need to have a good compact line in attack.”

The UAE were well supported by a large crowd at Zayed Sports City and Zaccheroni said he was personally disappointed that his side had not rewarded that backing with the three points.

“I wish we won the first game in the competition but that didn’t happen and we’ll have to come back stronger if we want to progress from our group,” he said

“I would like to thank the fans for supporting us tonight. I wish we could have given them a good result at the end but it didn’t happen.”

Updated: January 6, 2019 11:01 AM

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