Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

UAE talking points: Edgardo Bauza needs more from Ahmed Khalil and Omar Abdulrahman in need of support

Following UAE's 1-1 draw in Bangkok against Thailand that leaves the national team's chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup looking perilous, John McAuley looks at five talking points to emrge from the match.
UAE striker Ahmed Khalil, left, and Thailand's Pansa Hemviboon battle for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo
UAE striker Ahmed Khalil, left, and Thailand's Pansa Hemviboon battle for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo

Team needs more from Khalil

As a former Asian Player of the Year and the UAE’s current top scorer in qualifying with 15 goals, Ahmed Khalil is rightly regarded as one of his side’s main men. However, against Thailand he looked laboured and often lethargic, never really running beyond the hosts’ defence. Khalil was substituted not long after the hour, and looked visibly spent. Perhaps he was carrying a knock. Nonetheless, the UAE need him to be better.

Mabkhout can be a puzzle

Ali Mabkhout’s performance can be summed up as such: three chances, one converted. The UAE striker came into the match on the back on a record-breaking domestic season, when he scored 33 goals to finish the league’s top scorer. Against Thailand, Mabkhout’s all-round play was off as his touch repeatedly let him down. Granted, he scored what could be a precious equaliser, but the Al Jazira frontman should have had at least two goals instead of one.

Abdulrahman must get the support

Typically, Omar Abdulrahman was the UAE’s best player. The reigning Asian Player of the Year was given a role just behind Mabkhout in attack, and created chances for his teammates, especially in the first half. However, Abdulrahman was forced to drop deeper to gain possession, and was not offered enough of an outlet from those ahead of him when he had the ball. At times it can feel he is doing too much himself.

Fawzi should be first choice

On the whole, Edgardo Bauza’s first competitive line-up made sense. Given the injuries to or unavailability of others, the Argentine’s starting XI was as expected, with Mahmoud Khamis coming in at left-back. The decision to play Abdulaziz Sanqour on the opposite side could be questioned, though. The Al Ahli right-back may be better going forward than Mohammed Fawzi, but the Al Jazira defender, part of their 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League-winning team, is an all-round superior player.

Tariq Ahmeds could swap

Perhaps the only other change should have been Al Nasr’s Tariq Ahmed making way for his namesake from Al Wahda. The former, a talented defensive midfielder, was deployed on the right flank and, although his crossing was commendable, playing wide is not his forte. Looking at the bench, maybe the latter should have started. A more natural fit, Wahda’s Ahmed had a fine end to the league season.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Updated: June 13, 2017 04:00 AM

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