x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Misfir leads an 'emotional' side against South Korea

Coach's preparations for his first competitive game in charge of the UAE team were thrown into disarray when his wife had to be rushed to a hospital in Dubai.

Abdulla Misfir, the UAE national coach, has decided to stay with the team for their game in Seoul against South Korea though his wife has been hospitalised in Dubai.
Abdulla Misfir, the UAE national coach, has decided to stay with the team for their game in Seoul against South Korea though his wife has been hospitalised in Dubai.

Ismael Matar said the UAE team are "emotionally charged" for the World Cup qualifier after discovering the wife of the national team coach underwent emergency heart surgery on Monday.

Abdulla Misfir's preparations for his first competitive game in charge were thrown into disarray when his wife was rushed to a hospital in Dubai.

Misfir has opted to remain with the team for the game in Seoul but says he is in "contact with my family members".

"It is a difficult time for the coach, and we respect his decision to stay with us," said Matar, the forward. "We will pray for his family and play for a win. I think every player understands the situation we are in, and everyone is emotionally charged up for this game."

The game also marks the first competitive match since the death of Theyab Awana.

The players, according to Misfir, were still mourning the loss of the midfielder, who died in a car crash,in the friendly defeat to China last week.

"The players were mentally still down following the death of Theyab Awana," Misfir said. "I believe they are better prepared from what they were a week ago. We will be looking to put up a good show against South Korea."

The UAE are bottom of Group B after losing both their games, 3-2 to Kuwait at home and 3-1 away to Lebanon, results that cost Srecko Katanec, the Slovenian, his job after 27 months in charge.

Misfir may have to play without Ahmed Khalil, the striker, because of injury, meaning Matar is likely to spearhead the attack with Mahmoud Khamis and Ismail Al Hammadi. Subait Khater will pull the strings from the midfield alongside Ali Abbas and Mohammed Fawzi. Hamdan Al Kamali is back in the side to marshal the defence with Basheer Saeed, Mohammed Ahmed Al Gharib and Abdulla Mousa.

"We will play an attacking game because our intention is to win," Misfir said. "We have not come to Korea to defend. It doesn't matter if we lose after playing an offensive game.

"We all know how important this game is for us and I am confident my players will give everything to keep our hopes alive."

Arsenal's Park Chu-young will captain the Korea side, and Ji Dong-won, the Sunderland striker, is in contention to start.

"I know how strong the Koreans are, but we are not afraid of them," Matar said. "We can do it if every player gives 100 per cent on the pitch. Each player has a task, and they must carry them out to perfection and we must take the opportunities that may come our way."

Chu-young may be struggling for playing time in the Premier League, but he has scored six goals in his last three games for Korea, two coming in Friday's 2-2 draw with Poland in Seoul.

"I am training hard and just trying to take the opportunities when they come my way," Park said. "We need to stay focused against UAE and make sure that we get the right result."

In the other Group B game, third-placed Lebanon host second-placed Kuwait.

apassela@thenational.ae


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