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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Alberto Zacherroni gets first win as UAE manager as Ali Mabkhout strike sinks Uzbekistan

Italian encouraged by quick progress of side after 1-0 friendly triumph in Al Ain.

The UAE's Mohammed Fawzi, left, in action during their 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in Al Ain. Image courtesy of UAE FA.
The UAE's Mohammed Fawzi, left, in action during their 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in Al Ain. Image courtesy of UAE FA.

Alberto Zaccheroni savoured his first win as the UAE manager after Ali Mabkhout struck the only goal of the game in a 1-0 result over Uzbekistan in the international friendly in Al Ain on Tuesday.

The Jazira forward timed his run well to collect a pass from Mahmoud Khamis and then round the Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov to finish with left-footed effort in the 15th minute.

The victory at the at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium came four days after the UAE had lost 1-0 to Haiti, and Zaccheroni said he was pleased with how his new side had reacted.

“It’s only my second match,” said the Italian. “I told my players to play as a team, and to give 100 per cent on the pitch and come out with a good performance as always.

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“We played a compact game tonight and were better organised that the first match.

“We had good control in the defence with the midfield falling back in support whenever required. The forwards didn’t have many chances but they managed to score, which was important to win the game.

“Uzbekistan were well-organised and also played compact with the midfield supporting the forwards and falling back in defence. We had something to learn from them tonight.”

Uzbekistan looked to hit back after falling back by a goal but the UAE defence, well marshalled by the Al Ain centre-backs Mohanad Salem Al Enazi and Ismail Ahmed, held firm.

Uzbekistan continued on the offence in the second half but the UAE defence, even after Ismail Ahmed was substituted by Fares Juma in the second half, remained solid.

With just over five minutes left, the UAE keeper Khalid Essa was brought into action, tipping away a free-kick from Azizjon Ganiev.

At the other end, Mabkhout was denied a second goal by Nesterov.

“To be in the right place at the right time is the hallmark of quality player,” Zaccheroni said when asked on the impact the Jazira forward had in the game.

And when asked if he was satisfied with the result, he responded: “I’m never satisfied with one performance. I want to see improvement all the time. What I’m saying now, I have already told the players. The players must take pride to wear the national team shirt.

“For me there is more to do with our team. We need to take this result forward and keep improving at every game. This is the foundation for the national team. I told the players that I’m not a coach for one or two individuals but for the entire team.”

Zaccheroni has made no secret about scouting new players as the season progresses and the action in the Arabian Gulf League restarts.

“I’ll be looking for new players all the time because we didn’t have many of the regulars in the two games we played,” he said.

“I’ll be watching and scouting for new players and provide them the opportunities.

“The most important for me is the overall performance of the team and the players have been made to understand of the ideas.”

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