x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Matar out for three weeks

The striker was hoping to give the UAE's supporters something to cheer about in the upcoming matches but is sidelined with an ankle injury.

The UAE forward Ismail Matar, centre, has a torn cartilage in his ankle.
The UAE forward Ismail Matar, centre, has a torn cartilage in his ankle.

DUBAI // Ismail Matar was hoping to give the UAE's supporters something to cheer about in the upcoming matches against Germany, South Korea and Iran. After a disappointing 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, he was determined to help the team regain the confidence of their crestfallen fans. The talismanic striker will, however, be watching from the sidelines, ruled out for three weeks with an ankle injury.

Matar picked up the injury in Qatar, when he turned out for Al Sadd in the Crown Prince Cup semi-finals against Al Gharafa. He stepped awkwardly making a turn and suffered a second degree cartilage tear, and could not train normally with Dominique Bathenay's squad. Matar was looking forward to the friendly against Germany on Tuesday and said: "It would have a been a great experience for me and the whole team. You learn a lot from playing against the best teams in the world. Now I will just wait and see how this injury heals. Hopefully, everything will be OK."

The World Cup qualifiers against South Korea and Iran are inconsequential for the UAE as they are already out of the running. Still, Matar added: "We have a lot to prove in these two games. We need to prove to ourselves that we are a better side than the results suggest. We also need to prove to our fans and regain their support and confidence. We have just one point in the qualifiers, so it would be nice to get some good results and finish on a high."

Al Jazira goalkeeper Ali Khasif will also miss the three games with a broken finger, while Haidar Alo Ali has a muscle injury. Al Ain keeper Motaz Abdullah has joined the team as replacement along with his club teammate Saif Mohammed, who fills in for Jazira's Ahmed "Dada" Mubarak. Dada has opted out due to personal reasons. Meanwhile, the German team arrived in Dubai last night from China, where they were held to a 1-1 draw in a friendly. They are scheduled to train at Al Nasr stadium this evening.

arizvi@thenational.ae