x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Positive end to preparations

A scoreless result it may be, but the UAE gained a moral victory over Australia in their final friendly before heading to Qatar for the Asian Cup, which begins tomorrow and continues until January 27.

Juma Fares of the UAE leaps to block Australia’s David Carney of Australia last night.
Juma Fares of the UAE leaps to block Australia’s David Carney of Australia last night.

AL AIN // A scoreless result it may be, but the UAE gained a moral victory over Australia in their final friendly before heading to Qatar for the Asian Cup, which begins tomorrow and continues until January 27.

Srecko Katanec's side could have pulled off the win 10 minutes from time had it not been for Nathan Coe, the Australian goalkeeper, and the woodwork, in front of a crowd of around 5,000 at the Khalifa bin Zayed stadium last night.

Subait Khater's powerful shot from outside the top edge box was brilliantly blocked by Coe.

In the very next move, Fares Juma's effort from a similar distance crashed against the post as the UAE ended their preparations for the Asian Cup on a high note, following on from their 2-0 defeat of Syria on Sunday.

"We can take a lot of positives from this game, particularly from the second half," said Katanec.

"In the second half, we played better, we played short passes, and we didn't allow them any scoring chances.

"I know Australia left out some of their key players; still it is very commendable that we didn't allow them a single scoring opportunity. We had some good chances to score. The goalkeeper made a couple of excellent saves and one hit the post.

"Australia are a team that played in the World Cup, and a tough opponent. They were physical and tactical side.

"We had some problems in the first half but got our game more organised in the second half and I was highly satisfied the way we came back in the second period."

The first half ended without much moves chances created by both sides.

Australia's best and only chance to go ahead was a powerful shot from Matt McKay from inside the area, which flew over the bar.

Katanec made three changes in the second half, bringing in Saeed al Kas along with Ismail al Hammadi and Theyab Awana, and his side came strongly on resumption of the action.

Khater's free-kick was well held by Coe, the second-half substitute for Bradley Jones, who was untested in the first half.

A low shot from al Hammadi touched the fingertips of Coe to be pushed wide and Yousef Jaber's header from the ensuing corner fell wide.

Saeed al Kas had a good run down the right flank but his weak shot was directed nowhere near the goal and also failed to find Ismail Matar and Theyab Awana, who were both following him in support.

The UAE travel to Qatar for the Asian Cup tomorrow and will play North Korea in their opening Group D opener next Tuesday, which will be followed by a metting with Iraq, the defending champions, four days later, and then Iran on January 19.

"Every game will be tough in this group but our focus is only on one game, the first with North Korea," said Katanec.

"We must be organised like how we played with Australia and not lose our heads.

"The friendly matches are always different when it comes to the real competition.

"But I know my team well.

"We have nothing to lose in the Asian Cup because we will play three tough games in the group stage, and if we are good enough, we will have another, and then maybe another.

"I would be happy if we can get some positive results."

 

apassela@thenational.ae