x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE fail to reach goal in Asian Under 19 championship bid

Although they went through the group stage unbeaten, their three points from three draws was not enough for them to progress.

The UAE tried to attack but their moves broke down or the players lost possession in their must-win game against Japan.
The UAE tried to attack but their moves broke down or the players lost possession in their must-win game against Japan.

The UAE's hopes of emulating the Olympic team in the AFC Under 19 Championship ended after a scoreless draw against Japan in the final group game at the Emirates Club stadium last night.

Although they went through the group stage unbeaten, their three points from three draws was not enough for them to progress in the biennial championship the UAE won in 2008 with the team that went on to represent the country at London 2012.

Iran topped the Group A table on seven after a resounding 6-0 thrashing of Kuwait at the Fujairah stadium. Japan qualified behind them on four points.

It was a win or bust game for the UAE while Japan only needed a draw to go through to the last eight.

The host made their intentions clear from the start. They went on the offensive from the word go and won a free kick outside the box in the seventh minute.

A low, fiercely struck shot by Salim Ali, the midfielder, was well held by Masatoshi Kushibiki, the Japan goalkeeper, diving to his right.

Japan won a free kick six minutes later but Takuya Iwanami's effort crashed against a wall of defenders.

They then had an opportunity to break the deadlock but Ryota Ohshima's attempt to chip the ball over the charging UAE goalkeeper Ahmed Shambih went wide.

The UAE continued to attack but they either lost possession or their moves broke down.

Eid Baroot, the Emirati coach, made an early change in the midfield by bringing in Salim Rashid in place of Rashid Jalal.

He later strengthened the attack by replacing Muhain Khalifa with Yousuf Ahmed, a third forward, on the hour.

Japan were more organised. They stuck to their task in defence and were dangerous on the counterattack and Shinya Yajima came close in a breakaway early in the second half.

The UAE had their chances too. Saif Rashid failed to latch on to a cross from Abdulrahman Yousuf.

At the other end, Yuya Kubo came twice close to putting Japan ahead. His first effort was just wide and Shambih did well to push the other out, both from inside the box.

With the clock ticking by the UAE's hopes of going beyond the group stage were fading but they fought until the end.

And their efforts were almost rewarded two minutes from time when Yousuf Ahmed charged in to the penalty area but his effort was smothered by Kushibiki.

And a last grasp free kick by Ali from 25 yards out sailed over the bar.

Baroot said, "we clearly lost two points" after the 1-1 draw against Kuwait in their opening game and it proved to be the case.

Iran will meet South Korea, the 11-time winners of the age group championship in Sunday's quarter-finals while Japan face Iraq, who edged out South Korea to top Group B on goal difference after they finished on seven points each.

apassela@thenational.ae

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