x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ibrahim: bring on the Spanish

The UAE Under 17 coach Ali Ibrahim said he expected his side to beat the African minnows Malawi in the opening game of their Under 17 World Cup campaign.

The UAE Under 17 coach Ali Ibrahim said he expected his side to beat the African minnows Malawi in the opening game of their Under 17 World Cup campaign. Now he has challenged them to make a name for themselves by inflicting defeat on the European giants Spain. Goals by Marwan al Saffar and Mohammad Sebil sealed the country's first ever win in the competition as they beat Malawi 2-0 in Kano, Nigeria.

But Ibrahim told his players to forget about celebrating and to ensure they are ready for the challenge of Spain when they meet tomorrow. "We need to forget about this game now and focus on Spain," he said. "We were expected to win against Malawi and thankfully we have managed to achieve that. But it is the next game which is really the big one. "We all know about Spain and we know how good they are. So there is nothing new I can say about them.

"Our job will be stay calm and if we play to the level we can, I think we can get a positive result. "Anything is possible on a football field. A good result will virtually assure us of a place in the second round and the boys are determined to do that. Our target is to get a positive outcome in every game and not depend on the other results in the group." Spain overcame the USA 2-1 in their opening game on Monday night, despite having a man sent off after two minutes, but the UAE top Group E with a superior goal difference.

If they can earn a point against Spain, it would virtually assure them of a spot in the second round as one of the four best third-placed teams from the six groups at the very least. Victory would guarantee a second round spot. The UAE will, however, have to improve if they are to do well against Spain as they were pushed hard at times by their African opponents on Monday. Ibrahim acknowledged as much and said: "It was a very even game. Malawi created a number of scoring opportunities, but our goalkeeper Ahmad Shambih did an outstanding job. It was a really difficult game for both sides, particularly in the first half due to the heat.

"Winning this game will now serve as a big motivation for the players in the upcoming games." @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae