x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Olympics: UAE warm up in Austria with high five

UAE 5 Hungary U23s 0 Mahdi Ali would have been pleased to see five goals scored amid a deluge in Lienz as his side continued their preparations for London 2012.

The defensive line's performance in sloppy conditions may have encouraged coach Mahdi Ali.
The defensive line's performance in sloppy conditions may have encouraged coach Mahdi Ali.

LIENZ, AUSTRIA // Before the drops began to fall, plump and cool, the UAE Olympic team had not scored.

But once the rain started in earnest, so did they, and when the match was over it was a deluge on the pitch and on the score line, a 5-0 friendly victory by the Emiratis over the Hungary Under 23 side.

Earlier in their run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, the UAE fell 4-2 to Shaktar Donetsk, their only defeat thus far in their training camp, and it came in heavy rain in Switzerland. Precipitation was not a problem last night, which had to be encouraging for Mahdi Ali, the Olympic team coach.

With rain a constant threat in England, he would have been pleased to see five goals scored and his own defensive line nearly impenetrable, even in increasingly sloppy conditions.

The starting XI got two goals in the five minutes before half time, but the wave of substitutes fared even better as light rain turned into a downpour.

Ismail Matar, the 29-year-old Al Wahda veteran, scored a free kick from 20 yards on the hour mark, and he added another just before full time, dribbling through a thicket of Hungary defenders to slot the ball inside the right post.

Matar and Ismail Al Hammadi, the Al Ahli midfielder, each came on at half time, and the long-time senior national team compatriots looked particularly comfortable in combination.

Both are candidates to make the first XI when the UAE opens Olympic play against Uruguay on July 26 in Manchester.

The only man in the 23-man UAE side who did not play was the No 1 goalkeeper, Ali Kasheif, who gave way to Khalid Essa and Dawould Suleiman, who each got half the game, but were rarely troubled.

The starting group was comprised entirely of U23 players, and after a ragged first half hour, they began clicking, especially in combinations involving Omar Abdulrahman, Amer Abdulrahman and Ahmed Ali, who played the withdrawn forward spot.

The first goal came as Omar Abdulrahman, from a deep position in front of the goal, rolled it back to Khamis Esmail, the defensive midfielder, who struck it in his stride and from 25 yards powered it into the right side of the goal.

Ahmed Khalil, who had looked dangerous, got a goal just before intermission. Amer Abdulrahman sent him a long pass out of the back, and he went in alone on the goalkeeper and fired it low inside the left post.

Haboush Saleh also scored, from 15 yards on a pass from the line by Ali Mabhkout.

The Emiratis' second-last friendly is on Monday, against the Honduras Olympic team, who also are headed to London 2012.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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& Paul Oberjuerge @PaulOberjuerge