x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mahdi pleased with team's progress despite Egypt's convincing win

Mahdi Ali¿s decision to experiment with his reserves failed to achieve the desired result last night as the UAE Olympic team lost 3-1 to their Egyptian counterparts in the second friendly at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium.

AL AIN // Mahdi Ali's decision to experiment with his reserves failed to achieve the desired result last night as the UAE Olympic team lost 3-1 to their Egyptian counterparts in the second friendly at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium. The visitors attacked from the first whistle and their bravery reaped its reward as they took the lead through a Mahmoud Thoubah penalty in the 35th minute and doubled it three minutes later when Marwan Mohsin headed in from a corner to give Egypt a 2-0 half-time lead. Mustafa Jalal, the second-half substitute, who would later be sent off, added a third goal just shy of the hour mark after the home side had pulled one back through Haboush Saleh, one of four changes Mahdi, the UAE coach, made after starting with most of his fringe players.

"I wanted to give the reserves a game because I wanted to see some different combinations," said Ali. "If I don't play them I'll never know them. It wasn't a good result but at least I got to see them. I thought they put them under pressure when given the opportunity. "We had a good first game, winning 3-0, so we tried a different combination. That was the whole exercise of these two friendlies. I am pretty satisfied with the team's progress."

Ali rang the changes after the break, strengthening the side by bringing in Ali Kasheif, the goalkeeper, Hamdan al Kamali, the defender, and Amer Abdulrahman and Saleh, the Baniyas midfielders. The changes worked as the UAE reduced the lead through Saleh, whose shot from inside the area deflected off Ma'ad al Hanawi, the Egypt defender, into the net five minutes into the second half. But the Egyptians made the game safe through Jalal, who sidestepped a couple of defenders before slotting the ball past Kasheif. Both teams ended the match with 10 players after Abdulrahman and Jalal were sent off following a scuffle.