x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE warm up to hosts Qatar ahead of Gulf Cup semi-final

Coach Mahdi Ali feels they have the psychological edge and 'morale is high in camp' after their big win over Bahrain in the last league game.

UAE will be optimistic of their chances after the huge 5-1 win over Bahrain in on Tuesday.
UAE will be optimistic of their chances after the huge 5-1 win over Bahrain in on Tuesday.

The Olympic team will have the "mental edge" over Qatar in their Gulf Cup semi-final, according to Mahdi Ali, their coach.

The last four clash will take place on the indoor pitch at the Aspire Academy in Doha at 12.30am tomorrow, UAE time.

And the manager believes his players' victory over the tournament hosts in a warm-up match, earlier this month, will stand them in good stead.

A win for the Under 23 side would send them into the final on Sunday against either Saudi Arabia or Oman, who will take the field earlier tonight, with their game kicking off at 10.15pm.

Tuesday's win over Bahrain, a 5-1 victory which took them into the knock-out stages, set them up for this last four match and the coach is confident the team are not finished yet, as they look to defend their title.

"The moral is high in the camp after the win over Bahrain," Ali said.

"My players will also have a mental edge, as we are meeting Qatar again after we beat them in a friendly before the start of the tournament.

"But, in football, you can't take anything for granted.

"It is a new game and the past result doesn't really matter, although I have to say, we may have a psychological advantage.

"However, we still need to be at our best to win."

The Olympic team will be missing several key players in Doha as Hamdan Al Kamali, Ahmed Khalil, Theyab Awana, Amer Abdulrahman and the goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani, have all drafted into the senior national team as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

With Rashid Essa struggling with a bruised ankle, the coach is far from having a full strength squad at his disposal.

"Obviously we miss some of the key players but there is adequate cover as we have a bigger squad," Ali said.

"The fact we have beaten Qatar twice in the last two years also makes us more confident."

Saudi Arabia are the only unbeaten team in the last four while Qatar scraped through defeating Kuwait 2-1, scoring both their goals after the Kuwaitis were was reduced to 10 players.

Mohammed Jamal, the Al Wahda midfielder, said: "It is a pressure game because of the expectations.

"But we are confident we can make it to the final."

ncameron@thenational.ae


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