Coventry: The UAE’s former Olympic football team captain, defender Hamdan Al Kamali, insists the team would have qualified for the quarter-finals if they had been in any other group.
Al Kamali, who led the side during the Asian qualifying rounds, which ended with a fine 3-2 win against Uzbekistan in Tashkent earlier this year, had to surrender the captain’s armband to his teammate at Al Wahda, Esmail Mattar.
“I think that we could have qualified for the next stage of the competition if we had been placed in any other group. All three teams in Group A were tough, and it was always going to be difficult for us,” he said.
Al Kamali said the UAE could be proud of their performances, though.
He said: “I think we can be satisfied with the way we performed in all three matches, though as an after-thought I think that today was our worst game and yet we got a draw. We played well against Uruguay and Great Britain and we lost,” Al Kamali told Gulf News at the end of the UAE-Senegal match on Wednesday.
Al Kamali, who spent the last six months on loan with French side Lyon, said it was interesting to note that all the UAE players play at home, whereas other teams in the competition have players playing in leagues all over the world.
“Considering that our exposure is limited within the UAE we have done a great job here,” Al Kamali said.
“We have played against some of the best teams and the best players and we have shown what UAE football is all about. We have announced our arrival on the international stage and got the respect of other teams,” he added.
“Other than the results we had here, it was even more important to show this side of the UAE to the world.”
Meanwhile, Senegal assistant coach Aliou Cisse said his side’s game against the UAE was the toughest of the group stage.
He said: “We are all so happy and proud with this result. No one really expected us to go to the next stage. We were up against the best teams like Uruguay and Great Britain, but this match against the UAE was the toughest.”