x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE a win away from last eight

The UAE go into their Group B match with South Korea knowing victory will secure them a place in the quarter-finals of the AFC Under 19 championship in Saudi Arabia.

DUBAI // The UAE go into today's Group B match with South Korea knowing victory will secure them a place in the quarter-finals of the AFC Under 19 championship in Saudi Arabia. The Emirates made a winning start to the tournament with a 2-1 win over Iraq on Friday. The Iraqis had Mohammed Abdulzahra sent off after 13 minutes for a professional foul, but the UAE did not make the advantage count until the last half hour when Hamdan Ismaeel scored in the 63rd minute.

Mohammed Fawzi doubled the lead 12 minutes later. Ali Oudah helped reduce the margin for Iraq with seven minutes left. However, their hopes of salvaging a point ended when Waleed Bahr was dismissed for a second yellow card two minutes before time. The UAE coach Mahdi Ali said: "This was the first match and our players were under a lot of pressure. The win will give us a boost for the next games and hopefully we can maintain our victories in the tournament.

"In the second half, the players adapted well and they played freely which helped us to create more chances. "As Iraq played with 10 men for most of the game, it opened up space for us which was capitalised on very well by our quick strikers and we managed to score two goals. "Iraq scored from a defensive mistake by our players but after conceding this goal we ordered the players to organise themselves and they managed to hold on for the win."

South Korea also made a winning start to their campaign, although they left it late against Syria. A header from Kim Young-gwon three minutes into injury-time gave them a 1-0 win. And the Korea coach Cho Dong-hyun denied his side had been fortunate to get all three points. He said: "If we were lucky, we would have got a bigger win." akunawicz@thenational.ae