UAE down but not out, ‘hope Thailand can do us a favour’ at Asian Championship
Adam Telford, the UAE captain, says all is not lost in the bid for promotion from the third tier of Asian rugby, although he acknowledges their chances are now slim.
The national team lost out by a single point to Malaysia in what felt like a winner-takes-all play-off in the Asian Championship Division 2 on Wednesday.
As such, Telford’s side need one unlikely event to go their way in the final round of matches in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Beating Chinese Taipei is the UAE’s part of the equation. Then they are reliant on Thailand, who they thrashed on the opening day, overcoming Malaysia.
If the form is a guide, that seems a faint hope, with Malaysia comfortably leading the Division 2 table and Thailand adrift at the bottom. However, Telford remains optimistic.
“We have to hope Thailand can do us a favour and it is a local derby so that can bring the sides closer together,” Telford said.
“They still have something to play for, so there is a chance, and we have to play well against Chinese Taipei.”
The loss to the host nation of this competition was a significant jolt for UAE rugby.
The national team had travelled east last week in high spirits, with a new set of players targeting three wins and elevation back up the standings, after two years of relegation.
Roelof Kotze, the performance manager of UAE rugby, believes his side are capable of playing at a higher level than the third tier of continental rugby.
“We have enough quality that we should not be in this division,” said Kotze, who is overseeing his second campaign in charge of the national XVs side.
“Looking at the other teams, we really have enough quality that we should not be here anymore.
“The guys know that had they done most of their basics well, we wouldn’t be here still. That hurts them.
“We have to prepare ourselves for Chinese Taipei. Statistically, if Thailand can surprise Malaysia, we only need to beat Chinese Taipei and we are still in.
“We have to make sure we don’t solely focus on what happened against Malaysia, because there is still a Test match to be played.”
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