Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Canberra: The United Arab Emirates coach Mahdi Ali praised his players for registering another AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 win that would “bring joy” to the people of the Emirates, after his side recorded a 2-1 win over Bahrain at Canberra Stadium on Thursday to reach the tournament’s quarter-finals.
The UAE's second consecutive victory, after their 4-1 drubbing of Qatar on Sunday at the same venue, looked on the cards after just 14 seconds of the kick-off as Ali Mabkhout put his side in front with the AFC Asian Cup’s fastest ever goals.
And although Jaycee John Okwunwanne found a leveller for Bahrain just before the half-hour mark, the UAE were dominant for long periods of the game and their greater attacking threat was rewarded on the 74th minute, albeit from an unlikely source, as Mohamed Hussain netted into his own goal.
“It was a tough game and the most important thing is we got the three points,” said Ali, following the win in Australia’s capital.
“This team brings a lot of joy to our UAE nationals and the people are happy and proud. The best moment for me is when I see the UAE fans are happy for the win, that’s a great feeling.
“This win will help relax us a bit with regards the pressure (for the game) against Iran and we will try to go again with the same mentality.”
With that Iran meeting coming up on Monday at Brisbane Stadium for Ali’s team, the coach admitted he would have to make some adjustments before taking on Carlos Queiroz’s pre-tournament favourites.
“Bahrain made a lot of attacking crosses in the first half and we corrected in the second half and we have not seen any more dangerous crossing,” said Ali.
“But we have to take this into consideration and work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen in the next game. We have to keep going in the same way.”
Should the UAE secure all three points against Iran then they will ensure they top Group C and potentially avoid a meeting with holders Japan, who are heavily favoured to top Group D.
However, Ali insisted he was not yet turning his mind to the knockout stage, nor any potential opponents the team may or may not face.
“We play any game to win regardless of what will happen, we don’t have the mentality of playing to avoid a team,” he added.