Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Newcastle: Coach Mahdi Ali insists the United Arab Emirates were taught harsh lessons in Tuesday’s AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 semi-final defeat by Australia as the hosts posted a 2-0 win to advance to the final.
Australia defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson scored inside the first 15 minutes at Newcastle Stadium to hand the 2011 finalists the ideal start.
And with the UAE, who were making their first semi-final appearance since reaching the 1996 final, unable to respond, Australia will face Korea Republic in Saturday’s final.
“Playing under pressure every three days against strong teams is a great experience for the players,” said Ali, who must re-group his side for Friday’s third place play-off against Iraq in Newcastle.
"You need to concentrate in critical moments, especially in the first 15 minutes, at the end of the first half and the start of the second half, but we lost concentration in the first 15 minutes and conceded two goals.
“This is a big lesson and we need to learn you have to concentrate for 90 minutes and mistakes are not acceptable as you lose the game.
“It was a big and important game. A semi-final is not easy to give two goals by mistakes in the first 15 minutes, especially when you are playing against the host team with big fans. It was difficult to come back into the game.
“This affected us a lot, but we tried our best to come back into the game, but it was not easy. Australia won the game because they were the better side.”
The UAE, who also finished fourth in 1992, had advanced as runners-up from Group C behind Iran having beaten both Gulf Cup champions Qatar and Bahrain before edging out defending champions Japan on penalties in last week’s quarter-final.
“We played three strong matches against Iran, Japan and Australia. All three were tough games. Today many players were tired and I think we didn’t have enough power to come back into the game,” added Ali.
“Three days was not enough for some players to come back. We tried to come back into the game, but after conceding two times inside 15 minutes at the start of the match, it was not easy to come back into the match. We also lost many passes and Australia benefited from this.”
The run to the semi-finals was the UAE’s best performance at the AFC Asian Cup since losing the 1996 final to Saudi Arabia having exited in the group stage at the last three editions.
“When we came here our aim was to reach the semi-finals,” said Ali. “We achieved our first goal, but that was not the big dream, the big dream was to win the title.”