x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mixed feelings for Lebanon after loss to 'remarkable turnaround'

Lebanon happy to qualify having played out the group stages well despite a bad start to their campaign.

Lebanon fans enjoyed the game against UAE with an eye on other results in the group.
Lebanon fans enjoyed the game against UAE with an eye on other results in the group.

Hassan Maatouk and Yousef Mohammed, the Lebanese internationals who play in the Pro League, had mixed feelings after their national team’s 4-2 defeat to the UAE in their final 2014 World Cup group stage qualifying game

“I am very happy because we have qualified for the next round for the first time ever, and I am sad because we couldn’t deliver the result for our fans,” said Maatouk, who plays for Ajman.

“It was a very entertaining match with six goals scored between the two teams.

“We couldn’t take the momentum of the first half forward but I feel we did very well in the group stage of the qualifier.

“At the beginning of this qualifying round of the competition, nobody expected us to come this far, particularly after the 6-0 defeat in the first game to South Korea. That defeat left us humiliated and we came back as a stronger team.

“We beat the Korean 2-1 in the return match and that was quite a remarkable turnaround. I think we have done extremely well so far and hopefully continue to improve our game and do our best in the play-off.”

Maatouk scored the second equaliser in first-half added time for the two teams to go into the break 2-2.

Mohammed said there was no magic formula for their best ever World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It was sheer hard work all the way,” Mohammed, who plays for the Dubai club Al Ahli, said.

“We have managed to gel as a pretty decent team and we have got a good coach [Theo Bucker] to work with.

“He has made a big difference in the team. He has motivated us and made us think that we can achieve results, which we have done.

“The next stage of the competition is going to be even tougher but that is expected when you move up to another level.”

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