UAE’s preparation for Hong Kong Asian Cup qualifier pleases Mahdi Ali
The UAE extended their winning streak to 13 after a 2-0 victory over Laos in China on Saturday, where the team have assembled for a 10-day camp.
The UAE coach said the game against Laos had “many benefits”, because almost every member of the 22-man squad played.
“It was important to provide everyone an opportunity, particularly those who travelled as cover for the injured players whom we left behind, and those injured players rejoining the tour squad,” he said.
“We want to keep every player in readiness for the game against Hong Kong. We have another game against Malaysia and the plan, again, would be to experiment with different combinations.
“This will keep every player on their toes. They need to compete for a place in the line-up.”
Khaled Abdulrahman and Sohail Al Mansoori, the midfielders from Al Ain and Al Wahda, made their international debuts in the second half against Laos.
Hamdan Al Kamali, the centre-back, has been given a two-day break to recover after picking up a knock against Laos. He is expected to be ready against Malaysia, though.
The UAE lead Group E with two wins in as many games, and preparations for the match in Hong Kong have gone well, with victory in the OSN Cup last month in Saudi Arabia the highlight.
“The winning culture is good for the moral of the team, but we must be realistic, too, because every game is a new beginning and you never know what is around the corner for us,” Mahdi Ali said. “Obviously, our preparations have gone well. I am quite pleased with the past results, the performances and looking forward [to seeing if] my players can take the momentum forward.”
Elsewhere, Marwan Ali, who opened the scoring in the UAE's 2-1 win over Yemen in the Under 19 Asian Championship qualifier, is confident of his team's hopes against the Maldives in the second match tomorrow.
“It was important to win the first game and now we are really looking forward to taking this momentum forward,” said Marwan.
Marwan Ali and Ahmed Rabia scored first-half goals to secure three points in the Group B opener at the Amman International Stadium in Jordan on Saturday.
“This was the start any team would be dreaming of,” Marwan said.
“Before the game, I was hoping I will score. It came true. I am really happy with my own performance, but more important for me was the three points for the team.
“Yemen was one of the stronger teams in the group and to win three points from them was an excellent result. Our next task is to win another three points from the Maldives.”