x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Katanec laments lack of UAE crowd support

Srecko Katanec, the national team coach, was left to ponder the size of the task facing him over the next month after his side went down to a second succesive two-goal defeat in the space of three days last night.

The UAE’s Subait Khater dribbles the ball through the Angolan defence but the man of the match could not prevent his side suffering their second 2-0 loss in three days.
The UAE’s Subait Khater dribbles the ball through the Angolan defence but the man of the match could not prevent his side suffering their second 2-0 loss in three days.

ABU DHABI // Srecko Katanec, the national team coach, was left to ponder the size of the task facing him over the next month after his side went down to a second succesive two-goal defeat in the space of three days last night. Angola secured the routine win at Zayed Sports City last night with goals from Maeco Antonio and Dorivaldo Dias, leaving Katanec with little option but to focus on the sole positive of being able to run the rule over some of his debutants making their bow on the international stage. Saeed al Kas, the Al Wasl forward, was one player afforded his chance despite being unable to command a place in his club's starting XI.

"For me a loss is a loss," said Katanec. "But, having said that, I must also mention these players don't get the feeling that they are playing for the country. The first is that there are no crowds to create the atmosphere and the other is that we are not fielding the best players. "It is not easy to prepare a team in a few days. We have been building a team for the last 18 months and suddenly we are playing with a new team.

"Angola are a physically strong side and we didn't fare badly as we did against Chile the other day. "But these two friendlies were important for me because it provided me an opportunity to see some new players. We will try to put up a decent squad for the Gulf Cup and hopefully have the full side for the Asia Cup in January." Katanec has to prepare a squad for the Gulf Cup in Yemen starting November 22 but will not be able to include the Olympic team players as they will travel to China for the Asian Games or players from Al Wahda, who will be the Pro League's representatives in the Club World Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi in December.

With that in mind, Katanec left out Faisal Khalil, and played al Kas in attack, but it was Angola who drew first blood. Yousuf Jaber failed to clear his lines and Wilson Macano was quickly on to the loose ball. He neatly chipped in from the right towards the unmarked Antonio at the back post to head it in to an empty net. Katanec had clearly seen enough of al Kas in the first half and summoned Khalil from the bench for the second period. The UAE improved marginally but the closest they came to scoring was through Subait Khater who fired a couple of long-range shots over the bar.

Angola's substitutes had a greater impact, with Dias heading a dipping in from a Ricardo Job cross with a minute remaining. Jose Amaral, the Angola coach, said the UAE players lacked mental strength. "We watched them play against Chile and that helped us in our game," he said. "We are also building a side with the home-based players and this game was important for us." apassela@thenational.ae