x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

South Korea defeat ends UAE's hopes of reaching 2014 World Cup

Coach Misfir blames results in first two group games, when he was not in charge, for the Emirates' failure.

The UAE team leave the pitch last night with their 2014 World Cup dream over.
The UAE team leave the pitch last night with their 2014 World Cup dream over.

DUBAI // Abdullah Misfir, the UAE coach, blamed results under Srecko Katanec, the previous manager, for the national team's failure as their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup were extinguished last night.

Defeat to South Korea means the UAE cannot reach the final stage of Asian qualifying, even with two games left.

They have performed worse than for the 2010 World Cup, when they reached the final qualifying stage but then lost all but one of their eight matches.

Misfir said that the UAE were doomed after the two defeats, home to Kuwait and at Lebanon, while Katanec was in charge.

"If we had any chance of qualifying for the next phase it would have been with the results we could have had in the first two games. But playing against a big team like South Korea, it was always difficult," said Misfir after two late goals sank his team.

"I believe we still played well in both the games with Korea and tonight we were unlucky not to finish with a point. We had chances but we lost them.

"And at the end, Korea's experience made the difference."

Lee Keun-ho, a late substitute, broke the deadlock two minutes from time at Rashid Stadium.

Park Chu-young, the captain and an Arsenal forward, scored a second three minutes into added time to put the Koreans in position to qualify with a win in Tuesday's meeting with second-placed Lebanon, surprise 1-0 winners in Kuwait last night. It was a heart-wrenching result for the home side, who put in their best performance of the qualifying round in which they have failed to earn a point.

The UAE face Kuwait away on Tuesday and Misfir insisted they will still play to win.

"We will go to Kuwait with the intention of winning and restore some pride," he said. "Obviously, I am not happy with the result but all I can say now is we have a good team for the future."

His team had their chances last night.

Ismail Al Hammadi, the Al Ahli winger, volleyed over, seven minutes after the break, Ismail Matar shot wide from inside the box a few minutes later and Abdullah Mousa's free header from a corner breezed just over the crossbar 10 minutes from time.

"It was an unexpectedly difficult match," said Cho Kang-rae, the Korean coach.

"Our players showed the will and motivation, and I would like to keep this team intact when we face Lebanon in four days.

"Against the UAE, we were focused on stabilising our defence and midfield. That's why we didn't venture deeper into their half. After the break, we changed our positioning and it worked."