The Whites may have just a point from two matches but former greats hail them as the "best team from the Gulf" and only unlucky not to have done well on the table.
UAE may be short on points but high on praise at the Asian Cup
DOHA // The UAE have just one point from two games, have yet to score in the tournament and may not even progress beyond the group stages of the Asian Cup. Their list of admirers is, however, growing following two impressive outings.
First, the Frenchman Philippe Troussier, who guided Japan to the 2000 Asian Cup title and the second round of the 2002 World Cup, described them as the "best team from the Gulf".
Now Serbian Bora Milutinovic, who has coached five different teams at the World Cup, has expressed his admiration for the Whites.
"Honestly, the UAE have been a pleasant surprise for me," Milutinovic said. "They were not fancied coming into this tournament, but the team has played some brilliant football.
"They are a young team and that means the future is really bright for UAE football.
"They have been very unlucky, but I hope their luck will change and they will qualify for the second round. Luck is important and if UAE can get a bit of it, I am sure they can go far in this tournament.
"But even if they do not qualify for the next round, they have surely won the admiration of many people here. They have been a pleasure to watch. I watched both their matches and they were really good, especially in the first match [against North Korea]. They created so many opportunities.
"Against Iraq, I thought the UAE were the stronger side and technically superior. But Iraq won through an own goal and this is football - it can be cruel sometimes."