UAE's Mahdi Ali pre­pares for Saudi Ara­bia 'fi­nal mis­sion'

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

A 'fi­nal mis­sion' of im­mensely chal­leng­ing na­ture awaits the UAE on Tues­day as they bid to keep their 2018 Fifa World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion hopes alive, coach Mahdi Ali said on Thurs­day.

The UAE beat a plucky but lim­ited Pales­tine 2-0 at the Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed Sta­dium in their penul­ti­mate Asian zone Group A en­counter in Abu Dhabi to stay on course to progress to the fi­nal qual­i­fi­ca­tion round as one of the four best pool run­ner­sup.

While pleased with the vi­tal vic­tory, how­ever, Ali lamented the fact that he will be with­out key men for Tues­day's fi­nal group game against lead­ers Saudi Ara­bia, who hosted Malaysia later on Thurs­day evening.

Totemic striker Ali Mabkhout is strug­gling to be fit for the crunch clash af­ter in­jur­ing his ham­string in ac­tion for his club side Al Jazira last week, caus­ing the 33-goal man to miss Thurs­day's match.

Ali will also be de­prived of the ser­vices of mid­field­ers Es­mail Al Ham­madi, who scored the first goal against Pales­tine, Ma­jid Has­san and Habib Far­dan, af­ter they picked up a sec­ond book­ing of the cam­paign.

"This is a chal­lenge," Ali said. "Will I bring in other play­ers? Yes, of course, I am think­ing about it. But now is not the time to dis­cuss it as we have to fo­cus on Saudi Ara­bia, which is like a fi­nal mis­sion, from to­mor­row."

The UAE may not have matched the pre-match pas­sion and vigour of Ali, who im­plored his men to "play their hearts out" on Wed­nes­day, but will cher­ish all three points.

Al Ham­madi (32) and Ah­mad Khalil's (60) ex­quis­ite goals il­lu­mi­nated a wretched game, in which the Whites were strangely list­less.

Bani Yas' Ah­mad Ali re­placed Mabkhout up front along­side the 2015 AFC Asian player of the year Khalil, but the UAE badly missed their 33-goal tal­is­man.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.