x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE coach irked with strange penalty as world takes notice

The unique style of conversion may be creating a buzz but Katenec is unhappy at the lack of respect ahead of crucial World Cup qualifying tie.

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An angry coach Srecko Katanec refused to divulge today what punishment, if any, would be levelled on the UAE midfielder Theyab Awana, who scored a penalty against Lebanon with a backheel shot.

Awana's ball from the spot, perhaps unprecedented in an international match, already was gaining traction on YouTube yesterday, just hours after the UAE overpowered Lebanon 7-2 in a friendly at Khalifa Stadium in Al Ain.

"We will resolve this inside our team and there will be no more talking about it," said Katanec, the UAE's Slovenian coach, who added that he was annoyed that "this is the first thing journalists want to know about the match".

He conceded that he was not happy about the execution of Awana's penalty, which came in the 78th minute and was the final goal of the lopsided game.

Awana came on as a substitute in the 70th minute, and was replace in the 80th minute, two minutes after his penalty.

Said Katanec: "This is not respect, OK? I am unhappy. My reaction was normal: I took him out."

Julian Stanculescu, director of liaison and marketing for the Football Association, did not reply to a request for comment from the FA.

Awana was taken down in the penalty area by the Lebanon defender Akram Maghrabi, and the 21-year-old Baniyas midfielder quickly picked up the ball and placed it on the spot, seeming to make clear he intended to take the penalty, even though Hamdan Al Kamali earlier had taken and made one.

Awana took four steps up to the ball, pivoting between his second and third step and planting his left foot next to the ball on the final step, showing his back to the goalkeeper.

He raised his right foot and brought it down, heel-first, on the ball, hitting it with fairly crisp pace to the left of the keeper, Hassan Moghnieh, who seemed almost stunned by the ploy and did not move.

The referee, Ali Hassan of Bahrain, showed Awana a yellow card, although it was never clear what infraction Awana was guilty of, beyond perhaps poor judgement. He did not celebrate unduly, and teammates hardly reacted as he jogged back towards midfield.

Katanec did not immediately speak to Awana as he came off the field. His only visible reaction was to touch hands with the player as he came to the bench.

Katanec may be unhappy that the goal will provide a distraction as the UAE begin their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign against India on Saturday.

India defeated Qatar 2-1 in a friendly in Doha on Sunday, and the result seemed to alarm Katanec, who already is unhappy that some Arabic-language media have predicted an easy passage against India, whom the UAE defeated 5-0 in a friendly in November.

"I don't like the atmosphere," he said. "Some journalists say we will win by five or six goals."

He also is concerned that India might have more supporters in the stands than will the UAE. More than two million Indians live in the UAE. "It would be ridiculous but it could be," he said.


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