x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Inspiration hard to come by for UAE football team

Abdullah Misfir, the UAE coach, conceded it was difficult to motivate his players to raise their game last night as they were beaten 2-1 in their 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The UAE, in white, lost their fifth consecutive Group B game last night, going down 2-1 to Kuwait despite taking the lead.
The UAE, in white, lost their fifth consecutive Group B game last night, going down 2-1 to Kuwait despite taking the lead.

Abdullah Misfir, the UAE coach, conceded it was difficult to motivate his players to raise their game last night as they were beaten 2-1 in their 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The national side were out of the World Cup running before the game kicked off in Kuwait, having lost their previous four matches in the competition.

And Misfir said: "It was very hard game for us after the South Korea match. We are in a position that is very hard to inspire the players, although we didn't come with a defeatist mindset.

"The reality is that they had nothing to play for than pride.

Ismail Matar had given the UAE some hope of restoring that pride with an early goal for a 1-0 lead at half time.

But Fahad Al Enezi headed home a Badar Al Mutawa cross for the equaliser four minutes into the second half and then Walid Abbas, who came on as a 65th minute substitute for Subait Khater, turned the ball into his own goal off a corner from Jarah Al Ataiqi.

"We had a good first half and were leading," Misfir said. "We created a few more chances and should have scored. But that didn't happen.

"We also had a couple of early scoring opportunities in the second half before Kuwait scored. Then the pressure was on us and we went flat.

"Anyway, I don't blame the players. I know they did their best, yet it was not good enough.

The result took Kuwait's tally to eight points, two behind South Korea and Lebanon with the UAE the bottom of the pile with no points from five games.

Kuwait need to beat South Korea away on February 29 to qualify, while Lebanon, who stunned South Korea 2-1 in Beirut last night, play the UAE in their final group game on the same day.

"Congratulations to Kuwait because they now have something to play for," Misfir said.

"We are left with one game and we will still try to win it despite the outcome being inconsequential for us."

Matar scored the opener when he completed a move he started.

The Al Wahda striker's defence splitting pass found Ali Al Wehaibi and he set up Ismail Al Hammadi in a shooting position on the edge of the box.

Al Hammadi's effort cannoned off a defender towards Matar, who sent a low shot that took a slight deflection to beat the outstretched leg of Hussain Ali, the Kuwait defender.

The national side had a golden opportunity to double the lead in the opening minute of the second half but Al Wehaibi failed to beat Nawaf Al Khaldi, the Kuwait goalkeeper, in a one-on-one from 12 yards.

The home side then pressed hard for an equaliser and came close a few times.

Majed Naser, the UAE goalkeeper, made a string of fine saves, pushing out a low shot from Mohammad Sinad and then punching away a shot from Waleed Jumah from the ensuing corner.

Al Hammadi's effort on the counter attack was saved by Al Khaldi and then the home side saw two more chances go begging through Jumah and Al Enezi, whose lob over the charging goalkeeper was just too hard.

Ultimately the UAE paid the price for their wastefulness in front of goal as Kuwait got back on level terms when Al Enezi headed home the equaliser and then Abbas turned the ball into his own net for the winner.

apassela@thenational.ae