UAE win over Japan hailed as ‘greatest shock’ in Asian Cup history
SYDNEY // The Australian media praised the UAE’s stunning quarter-final win over Japan in Sydney and called it the biggest shock of the Asian Cup.
They did maintain, though, that the hosts are favourites to overcome Mahdi Ali’s team in Tuesday’s semi-final in Newcastle.
“It was the day that turned the Asian Cup on its head but this was the greatest shock of all,” The Daily Telegraph said.
“Japan are out of the Asian Cup and the Socceroos face a semi-final with the UAE after the Middle East side incredibly beat Japan on penalties at ANZ Stadium last night.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Australian edition called it “one of the biggest upsets in Asian Cup history”.
Sebastian Hasset of the Sydney Morning Herald praised the UAE’s win, especially their heroic defending.
“While they will be underdogs against the Socceroos, ‘Al Abyad’ has shown themselves in this tournament to be capable of sharpness in attack – knocking four past Qatar in their opening match – and defending stoutly, as they did here,” he said.
“A fabulous example of the desperate Emirati defending came in the 65th minute when Makoto Hasebe looked to shoot on the edge of the box, only to be met by three defenders all diving in desperately to prevent the shot going anywhere near Naser’s goal.”
Tim Cahill, Australia’s talisman and quarter-final hero, also acknowledged the UAE’s achievement on Twitter.
“Congratulations to UAE beating the reigning champions JAPAN,” he posted on his account.
One man stole the spotlight for the UAE. The Daily Telegraph, under a headline of “Perfect Panenkas add class to night of drama”, picked out Omar Abdulrahman’s spot kick, in which he chipped the ball down the middle of the goal, as one of the highlights of the night.
“Impressive young United Arab Emirates attacker Abdulrahman – already hard to miss due to his flowing curly locks – has been one of the revelations of the tournament and his rising stature was never more evident than his fearless penalty in the shootout against Japan at ANZ Stadium,” the newspaper said.
“He made experienced goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima look distinctly average, committing him to move to the right early before deftly chipping straight down the middle.”
Some saw the UAE’s exertions as good news for the host nation.
“With an extra day’s recovery time, the Socceroos are looking good for the semi-final,” Michael Cockerill said in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I think by and large the majority of Australians will be of the belief that the path to the final just got a little easier with Japan being knocked out,” said Paul Williams, an Australian journalist.
“There will definitely be some who underestimate UAE and their ability because football from the Gulf region isn’t viewed that highly in Australia.
“But UAE has shown so far that they cannot be underestimated, and it will be a big test for Australia.”
Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE
Updated: January 25, 2015 04:00 AM