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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Zaccheroni laments quick turnaround as UAE face Saudi Arabia in Gulf Cup clash

Italian is able to call on star player Omar Abdulrahman who has recovered from injury.

UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni will look to guide his side into the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup with a win against Saudi Arabia. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni will look to guide his side into the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup with a win against Saudi Arabia. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

Alberto Zaccheroni, the UAE manager, has complained about the “little time” he has had to prepare his team for the top of Group A clash against Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cup on Monday.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia both won their opening group matches, against Oman and Kuwait respectively, on Friday and face each other at 6.30pm at the Jaber Al Ahmed International Stadium in Kuwait City.

“The results of the first round matches came close to all the teams and it makes it difficult on our preparations,” Zaccheroni said.

“I can’t talk about the affects it has on other teams but the schedule doesn’t go well for us. We have a lot of tired and injured players, but in this case, we’ll have to deal with it.”

Zaccheroni rates Saudi Arabia as one of the best teams in the Gulf despite them sending a weakened squad for the regional competition after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

“They have qualified for the World Cup in Russia, the Saudi league is strong and the clubs have been successful in the Asian Champions League,” the Italian said.

“They are coming off the back of a win against Kuwait and their confidence will be high. It’s a tough game for us but we are still hopeful of another good result.

“Like all teams they have weak arrears which we plan to exploit to the full.”

Zaccheroni has a few selection dilemmas with injuries to several key players, but he still looked at the positives of providing youngsters with the opportunities. However, key player Omar Abdulrahman is fit for selection after returning from injury.

“Omar is ready for the match but there are a lot of injured players, so the Gulf Cup is an opportunity to use a number of young players and prepare them for the 2019 Asian Cup,” former Japan manager Zaccheroni said.

“I have chosen a way of playing that suits my players. When I was coaching Japan, I played a different way. I think the players have absorbed the new tactics but they need more time to execute it successfully.

“The Gulf Cup is an opportunity to try and build a strong team for the Asian Cup.”

Saudi Arabia manager Krunoslav Jurcic believes his side can take momentum from their win against Kuwait when they meet the UAE in a game that offers a semi-final place to the winner.

“The morale is good in the camp after the first game in the Gulf Cup,” the Croatian said.

“The UAE are also coming into the game with a win. They are a good side with several good players and led by a well-known manager.

“We respect our opponents but at the same time we are well prepared to deal with them.”

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