x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE's performance in Asian Cup draws praise

Former Japan coach Philippe Troussier says the UAE are the best team from the Gulf, but goalkeeper Majed Nasser states it means little if they cannot find winning formula.

DOHA // The UAE’s performance in the Asian Cup has drawn praise from every quarter, with the Frenchman Philippe Troussier describing the Whites as the best team on view from the Gulf.

“The UAE are in a really tough group,” Troussier, who guided Japan to the 2000 Asian Cup title and the second round of the 2002 World Cup, said.

“The way they have played, I really have no hesitation in saying they have been the best team from the Gulf.”

Majed Nasser, the UAE goalkeeper, certainly welcomes the compliments, but insists they mean little if the team cannot turn their dominance to victories and progression to the quarter-finals.

The UAE have been impressive in both their outings of the Asian Cup, but have not been able to get the results deserving of their efforts due to their goal-scoring problems. They finished 0-0 against North Korea and then lost 1-0 to Iraq following a 93rd minute own-goal.

“I really would like to apologise to our fans for our failure to win,” Nasser said. “We have earned a lot of praise for our performances and I thank everyone who has appreciated our efforts, but performances alone are not enough. We need to win. Our fans deserve it.”

The defeat against Iraq has left the UAE with a slim chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages, but Nasser insists they have not given up hope yet.

“Our promise to the fans is that we will go all out for a win against Iran [on Wednesday night],” he said. “When went back to the dressing room after the Iraq loss, the coach [Srecko Katanec] told us that the tournament is not over yet.

“Obviously we are disappointed, but we are determined to make up for it against Iran. Everyone knows that they are a big team, but anything can happen in football.

“We will play for a win and not worry about the outcome of the other game [between Iraq and North Korea]. It is important that we win and leave the complex complications for after the game.”

arizvi@thenational.ae