The UAE secured top spot in Group E of the Asian Cup qualifier with a game left after a resounding win on Tuesday night over Vietnam.
UAE 5 VIETNAM 0
UAE – Abbas 19’, Matar 25’, Mabkhout 30’, Fardan 37’, Khalil 90’+3
Red card - Chau Le Vinh (Vietnam) 6’
Man of the match - Omar Abdulrahman (UAE)
ABU DHABI // Mahdi Ali, the UAE coach, wants to set a new benchmark for his team by playing against teams slotted between 30th and 40th in the Fifa rankings when they start preparing for 2015 Australia Asian Cup.
“It has been a remarkable year for us and now we need to raise the level for this team to play friendlies against stronger opponents for our future preparations,” the Emirati manager said.
The UAE won the Gulf Cup in January and the OCN Cup – a four-team friendly tournament in Saudi Arabia – in August. Tuesday night they topped the Group E in the Asian Cup qualifier after winning 5-0 against Vietnam at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
“We are really happy with the team’s progress and with the result against Vietnam. We won 5-0 and it could have been a bigger margin had we scored from the many chances we created,” Mahdi Ali said.
The victory over a 10-man Vietnam side took the UAE’s tally to a perfect 15 points. No other team in the group has more than three victories.
Mahdi Ali’s side had the game won at half time, finding the net four times from the seven shots they fired at the Vietnam goal.
Walid Abbas opened the scoring while Ismail Matar, Ali Mabkhout and Habib Fardan piled on for a 4-0 lead. Ahmed Khalil, who came in as a 72nd-minute substitute for Matar, completed the rout with a goal in added time.
Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil missed on scoring from simple chances twice each, and Mohammed Fawzi’s effort from inside the right side of the box crashed against the far post in the second half.
Vietnam received an early blow when Chau Lee Vinh, the defender, was given a red card by the Japanese referee Ryuji Sato for shoving and tripping Mabkhout from behind only six minutes into the game.
Hamdan Al Kamali’s spot kick from the ensuing foul was blocked by Nguyen Thanh Binh, the Vietnam goalkeeper.
Mabkhout was twice off-target early in the game. His header off corner sailed over the crossbar and sent a close range effort wide.
But it did not take long for the UAE to break the deadlock. Abbas smothered a clearance from the Vietnam defender Au Van Hoan to send the ball crashing on to the far corner of the net.
Matar slammed in a back-pass from Mabkhout to double the lead. The provider turned the scorer when he fired a pass from Mohammed Fawzi and Habib Fardan tapped in an Omar Abdulrahman pass to make it 4-0.
With Mabkhout returning from a one-match ban, Mahdi Ali made only one notable change in the line-up, leaving out Ali Kasheif, the first-choice goalkeeper, to provide Khaled Eisa his first game in the competition.
“We don’t want to make too many changes in a game,” Mahdi Ali said. “We want to strike a good balance and then provide some players the opportunity whenever we can.”
Nguyen Sy, the Vietnam assistant coach, said they were up against a stronger team, but losing by a 5-0 margin was because they lost a player very early in the game for a red card.
“The UAE played very strong game in the first 15 minutes,” he said. “In the second half, we tried to keep possession for as long as possible not to allow the UAE to score more goals.”
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