x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Oman 'will be dangerous'

Mahdi Ali, the UAE Under 23 team national coach, says his squad is wary of Oman, who lost their opener of the Gulf Cup and 'have their backs against the wall'.

Ahmed Ali, left, and the UAE Under 23 team hope to repeat as champions in the Gulf Cup.
Ahmed Ali, left, and the UAE Under 23 team hope to repeat as champions in the Gulf Cup.

Mahdi Ali, the coach of the Under 23 team, said he is wary of Oman in Sunday night's clash at the Gulf Cup in Doha.

Oman lost their opener in the six-team tournament to Bahrain, and a second loss tonight would send them out of the tournament.

"Oman have their backs against the wall and any team in such a situation will be very dangerous," Ali said.

"We are ready for them. My players are very experienced in the age-group competitions to handle the pressure."

He said the UAE team would be without several players who are with the senior national team preparing for World Cup qualifiers that start with a home game against Kuwait on September 2.

Hamdan Al Kamali, the captain and central defender, along with forwards Ahmed Khalil and Theyab Awana, and Adel Al Hosani, the goalkeeper, are training with the senior team, who play Qatar in a friendly in Al Ain on August 25.

Omar Abdulrahman, the influential Al Ain midfielder, is recovering from knee surgery and will miss out from playing in both teams.

Despite the absence of some key players, the UAE are still the favourites on the back of their success over the past eight years.

They were crowned the U16 Gulf Cup champions before winning a maiden U19 Asian Cup and a silver medal in the Asian Games. They also reached the last eight in the U20 World Cup and are the defending U23 Gulf Cup champions.

"Being together as a team for so long, particularly as a successful one, is the greatest strength of this squad," said Ali, whose squad arrived one week ahead of the competition and won a friendly against Qatar last week. They had also spent two weeks at a camp in Austria before arriving in Qatar.

But Saudi Arabia sounded an early warning to the UAE's dominance with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Qatar side in Friday's Group A opener.

The Saudis opened the scoring a minute after the hosts had a player sent off. Yehya Al Shehri put them ahead in the 18th minute and Abdulla Al Dosari and Saud Al Hamad made it 3-0 at the break.

Sultan Al Bishi later struck two minutes into added time to complete the rout.

And it could have been more had Al Hamad been successful with a penalty.

Saudi Arabia face Kuwait in the second match tonight. A win will secure a semi-final spot for Saudi Arabia from Group A.

 

apassela@thenational.ae

 

THE FIXTURES

Friday

Qatar 0, Saudi Arabia 4
Oman 0, Bahrain 1

Sunday

UAE v Oman, 10.15pm
Saudi Arabia v Kuwait, 12.30am

Tuesday

UAE v Bahrain, 10.15pm
Qatar v Kuwait, 12.30am

August 19

Semi-finals

 

August 21

Finals