x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE only need draw to progress

Despite suffering defeat at the hands of Spain on Thursday, the UAE can still qualify for the second round of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup if they win a point against the USA.

Despite suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Spain on Thursday, the UAE can still qualify for the second round of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup if they win a point against the USA tomorrow. Ali Ibrahim's team went down to the Group E favourites in Kano, Nigeria. However, they are still second, ahead of the USA, who got the better of Malawi 1-0 earlier in the day, on goal difference.

Spanish forward Isco drew first blood in the 12th minute and he set up Borja to double the lead seven minutes later. Mohammed Sebil pulled one back in the 68th minute before Jon Aurtenetxe sealed Spain's progress to the next round with a free kick two minutes from time. "When you are two goals down against Spain in the first quarter, the pressure gets to you. We couldn't recover from those early blows," coach Ibrahim said. "Yet we survived that period without conceding more goals and came back after the break to score against them.

"Spain's third goal was just too good, or too hard to believe. It was a free kick from a difficult angle that curled in. We are not complaining but so good were Spain's fortunes on the night. "We must admit we were beaten by a better team. We tried to go toe-to-toe against one of the best teams at the tournament. Spain are a great team, especially their forwards. They scored two beautiful goals and that took the game away from us."

Ibrahim preferred to look ahead with regard to his team's crucial clash against the USA in Ijebu Ode, a city about 700km from Kano. "We have a couple of days to prepare and although a draw may be enough, our approach, as always, will be to play to win," Ibrahim said. "For us, the knockout round of the competition has already begun." apassela@thenational.ae