x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE football coach Mahdi Ali will stick with testing new combinations

Creative midfielder Amer Abdulrahman ruled out of final against New Zealand, with Baniyas teammate Mohammed Fawzi likely to replace him, reports Amith Passela.

The UAE, in white, surrendered a three-goal lead against Trinidad and Tobago in their last game before prevailing on penalties to set-up Monday's championship game against New Zealand. Fayez Nureldine / AFP
The UAE, in white, surrendered a three-goal lead against Trinidad and Tobago in their last game before prevailing on penalties to set-up Monday's championship game against New Zealand. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Mahdi Ali has warned he will not stop experimenting even if it risks his team's chance to win the OSN Cup final against New Zealand on Monday night in Riyadh.

The UAE coach nearly paid a heavy price for the second-half substitutions he made against Trinidad and Tobago to whom his side surrendered a three-goal lead to end in a 3-3 draw before they prevailed 7-6 in a penalty shoot-out.

"Our objective in this friendly tournament is to provide maximum players the opportunity to play and to try out different combinations," Mahdi Ali said.

"And when you make many changes it can lead to players committing mistakes and this is what happened in the last game. Obviously, we want to win the final but we will not stop experimenting.

"It is difficult to predict the result but this team have created the culture of winning trophies. Hopefully we can add another."

Mahdi Ali is using the two games in the OSN Cup as part of his team's preparation for the Asian Cup qualifier at Hong Kong on October 15.

"It has been our primary objective," he said. "We played an excellent first game until the changes in the combinations. Now we know the areas we have to work on.

"We have had four days between the matches to address this issue and hopefully get them right this time. However, whatever we plan may depend on how the game pans out."

Amer Abdulrahman, the clever midfielder, is sidelined tonight with a broken jaw he suffered when elbowed in the face by Trinidad's Kevan George. He will be out for three weeks, and his place in the line-up is likely to be filled by his Baniyas teammate Mohammed Fawzi.

New Zealand edged Saudi Arabia 1-0, courtesy of a 78th-minute winner from Chris Killen, for a passage to the final.

The next assignment for the UAE is a trip to China for a camp on October 5, where they will play two friendlies, before moving on to Hong Kong. The UAE head Group E on six points after two games, having defeated Vietnam and Uzbekistan by identical 2-1 margins.

apassela@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE