A second-half header from Japanese forward Mike Havenaar proved the difference at the Big Swan Stadium.
Japan 1 UAE 0: Mahdi Ali kicks off reign with friendly defeat
NIIGATA // Mahdi Ali’s spell as national coach of the UAE got underway with a 1-0 defeat to Japan in Niigata this afternoon.
Nevertheless, it was a creditable result as Ali's side went down by solitary goal from Mike Havenaar.
The exchanges were even until the tall Japanese forward rose above the UAE defence to connect a header off a dipping left cross to snatch the winner.
The UAE’s best chance was created by Omar Abdulrahman. The diminutive midfielder sent a through pass to Khamis Ismail, who darted into the box to fire a bullet which was blocked by the Japan goalkeeper in the first half.
Ahmed Khalil was late on a low long cross from Abdulaziz Haikal and then the host had their best chance from a counter attack in the very next minute.
Havenaar’s header was reflectively saved by the goalkeeper Ali Kasheif’s outstretched leg with a minute left for the break.
Japan currently lead the 2014 World Cup qualifying Group B by five points from Iraq, Australia and Jordan. They meet Iraq at Saitama on Tuesday.
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