x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE lift OSN Cup to sign off in Saudi Arabia with style

Goals from Khalil and Mabkhout help Emirates secure 2-0 win over New Zealand and second trophy of 2013 under coach Mahdi Ali, reports Amith Passela.

UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, right, evades the attention of New Zealand’s Costa Barbarouses during last night’s OSN Cup final in Riyadh.
UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, right, evades the attention of New Zealand’s Costa Barbarouses during last night’s OSN Cup final in Riyadh.

The UAE secured their second piece of silverware of 2013 under coach Mahdi Ali on Monday night as they added the OSN Cup to January's Gulf Cup triumph with a 2-0 win over New Zealand.

Ahmed Khalil opened the scoring on 11 minutes and Ali Mabkhout curled home a well-taken second on 56 minutes at the King Fahd International stadium in Riyadh.

New Zealand ended the match with 10 men after Ben Sigmund was given a straight red card by Saudi referee Fahad Al Merdasi for a stamp on Mabkhout.

The result serves as a tonic for Mahdi Ali's side's preparations for next month's Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong, where a win will firmly put them on course for a passage to Australia in 2015.

Ismail Al Hammadi came in for the injured Amer Abdulrahman as Mahdi Ali stuck to an otherwise unchanged line-up.

The UAE coach learnt his lesson after his side surrendered a three-goal lead in the previous game against Trinidad and Tobago before progressing via a penalty shoot-out to Monday night's final of the four-team friendly tournament.

In that match, Mahdi Ali made several substitutions to give his fringe players time on the pitch. He made only two changes on Monday night.

The UAE were the more creative side in the Saudi capital and thoroughly deserving of their winner's cheque of US$50,000 (Dh183,655).

They carved open the New Zealand defence several times before they broke the deadlock. Habib Fardan sent a looping cross Makbhout's way and the Al Jazira forward drew the defence before setting up Khalil, who was backing up, to neatly dispatch the ball into the back of the net.

Mabkhout wasted a couple of scoring opportunities in the first half. He lost control of the possession with only goalkeeper Glen Moss to beat but was off target with his effort from the edge of the area as a largely one-sided first-half drew to a close.

New Zealand too came close to cancelling the UAE'S lead twice. They were unlucky when Cameron Howieson's dipping free kick bounced off the bar and then Ali Kasheif, the UAE goalkeeper made an excellent save to keep the ball out inches away from the line off a close range header from Winston Reid.

Omar Abdulrahman split the New Zealand defence with a through pass for Mabkhout 11 minutes after the restart and the Jazira forward composed himself before curling home a wonderful shot from just inside the area around the despairing dive of Moss to secure the victory.

Trinidad's Jones leaves Saudis reeling

Two goals in the opening five minutes from Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones helped Trinidad and Tobago secure third place in the OSN Cup at the expense of hosts Saudi Arabia.

Naif Hazai finally gave the home crowd in the King Fahd Stadium something to cheer when he pulled a goal back two minutes after half time, before Andre Boucaud sealed the 3-1 win.

apassela@thenational.ae

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