x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Katanec starts with a whimper

Srecko Katanec's first match as the UAE manager ended in a dismal draw against a spirited Palestinian side in a friendly.

The UAE during the friendly draw against Palestine at Al Wasl stadium in Dubai in Srecko Katanec's first game in charge.
The UAE during the friendly draw against Palestine at Al Wasl stadium in Dubai in Srecko Katanec's first game in charge.

DUBAI // Srecko Katanec's first match as the UAE manager ended in a dismal draw against a spirited Palestinian side in a friendly. The Slovenian watched his side come from a goal down to equalise through the substitute Saeed al Kas in the second-half, but were poor in attack and defence against a team ranked 173rd in the Fifa world rankings, 50 places below them.

The visitors poured forward from the off and in the third minute a powerful 30-yard shot from Hosam Wadi crashed against the crossbar. The UAE, playing for the first time in more than four months, showed rustiness and for all their possession, they failed to create any chances. They also lost the key striker Ismail Matar on the half hour because of leg injury following a tackle, and his place was taken by al Kas.

The goal they conceded came after a misunderstanding between the goalkeeper Majed Naser and the defender Basheer Saeed, who left the ball for each other in the 35th minute. After Fahad Alatal's shot had hit the crossbar, with Naser way off his line, Alamor scored from the rebound. The Palestinians may have felt they were playing at home with a few hundred of their own fans creating all the noise in an otherwise empty stadium.

The UAE fans may have had a valid reason to stay away though, to watch their youth team playing for a semi-final berth in the Under 20 World Cup in Egypt later in the night. Al Wasl striker al Kas cancelled out the lead just two minutes after the break, side-footing home a low cross from the left from Mahmoud Khamis. Mohammed Suroor later missed a sitter in front of the goal, failing to latch on to a low cross from Khamis, and from this show- ing, Katanec has plenty of work to do.

@Email:apassela@thenational.ae