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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 January 2019

UAE's Alberto Zaccheroni delighted to give fans joy from Asian Cup win over India

Hosts fortunate to seal win at near-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium as they survived many scares to take three points

UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni, right, congratulates striker Ali Mabkhout during their 2-0 win over India on Thursday night. Satish Kumar / Reuters
UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni, right, congratulates striker Ali Mabkhout during their 2-0 win over India on Thursday night. Satish Kumar / Reuters

UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni said he was pleased to have finally brought some cheer to the country’s football fans after his side got their Asian Cup campaign off and running with a 2-0 victory against India on Thursday night.

The national team, hosting the tournament for only the second time in the country’s history, were fortunate to seal the win at a near-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium, surviving a number of scares to eventually take a precious three points.

The victory moved the UAE to the top of Group A with one match remaining, and came only five days after they were held 1-1 by Bahrain in the event opener. That result had piled the pressure on Zaccheroni and his team, with speculation emerging this week that the Italian could soon be dismissed.

However, the much-needed triumph against a spirited India, secured through goals from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout, sets up the UAE for a spot in the knockout stages. A draw against Thailand in Al Ain on Monday would confirm their qualification, while another three points would see the home side advance as group winners.

Speaking directly after the success against India, Zaccheroni said: "I am delighted to have been able to make UAE fans happy with this win. I know they were disappointed after the first draw. I would like to thank all of those fans that came here tonight and supported us.

“We started well, but with time we struggled with the pace of the Indian team. In the second half, we changed the way we play; we were tackling more, recovering the ball quicker and were more focused.

“We were clinical in front of goal and got the second goal. Congratulations for my team for the result and the performance. India have a bright future ahead of them."

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Updated: January 11, 2019 10:18 AM

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