x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE win machine rolls on after 3-1 defeat of Malaysia

Mahdi Ali's men stretch their winning streak to 14 games.

Omar Abdulrahman, left, is challenged by a Malaysian defender during the UAE's 3-1 win against Malaysia in a friendly played in Shenzhen, China, on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the UAE FA
Omar Abdulrahman, left, is challenged by a Malaysian defender during the UAE's 3-1 win against Malaysia in a friendly played in Shenzhen, China, on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the UAE FA

Mahdi Ali will take his side into next week’s 2015 Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong on the back of a 14-match winning streak after the UAE defeated Malaysia 3-1 in a friendly at Shenzen, China, on Wednesday.

Al Ahli striker Ahmed Khalil scored twice and Ali Mabkhout of Al Jazira fired in the other in their final friendly match before the team depart for Hong Kong on Sunday ahead of Tuesday’s match.

Malaysia, who play Bahrain in the same day, scored a consolation through Shafiq Rahman.

UAE coach Mahdi Ali, as he did in the 2-0 victory over Laos last week in his team’s first warm-up match in China, fully utilised his squad by giving almost every player a run out against Malaysia, with most of the changes occurring in the second half.

“So far so good for us,” said the coach, who has not suffered a loss since falling 1-0 to Japan in his first match in charge. “We adopted the same strategy as the previous game against Laos by rotating the players in order to provide everyone an opportunity of getting on the pitch.

“The results are important and not important in these friendlies. The important thing is to achieve our objectives and readiness ahead of our match against Hong Kong.

“I am pleased with the way we are playing, but it will be a big test when we travel to Hong Kong. We still have some work ahead of us and hopefully have them sorted out in the next few days in our camp.”

It was the UAE’s second win in two games in China, where they have been in a training camp for 10 days.

They defeated Laos last week with Khalil and Mabkhout again on the scoresheet, and the UAE coach is unlikely to split the front-line pairing for the match in Hong Kong, where they hope to make it three wins from three games in Group E.

The same players also accounted for four of the UAE’s five goals during last month’s OSN Cup, a four-team friendly tournament which the UAE won after defeating Trinidad & Tobago, via a penalty shoot-out, hosts Saudi Arabia and New Zealand in the final.

Mahdi Ali’s men kicked off their Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-1 away win against Vietnam in February, and they overcame Uzbekistan by the same score in March at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

Victory at Mong Hok Stadium on Tuesday will give them nine points and move them a step closer to securing their tickets to Australia in 2015.

Hong Kong sit second in Group E with four points from two matches, having opened qualifying with a 0-0 draw away to Uzbekistan before beating Vietnam 1-0 in Hong Kong.

apassela@thenational.ae