Dubai: The UAE football team’s Olympic preparations are on track despite some lop-sided results during the friendly matches, according to a top official of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA). The last one on Monday for the UAE was a 1-2 loss to the Honduras in their penultimate preparation match before next week’s 2012 London Olympics football competition.
“These are only friendly matches and one cannot take too much from these. These matches are meant to get the players motivated into competing against similar teams at an important event like an Olympic Games. I am sure our players have learnt valuable lessons that will come in handy when the actual competition starts,” Yousuf Al Sarkal, President of UAEFA, told Gulf News from Kuala Lumpur.
The UAE had seven friendly matches lined up for their final preparatory camps held in Switzerland and Austria. They started off with a 1-0 win against FC Sion, only to lose 2-4 to Shahktar Donetsk in their second match. After shifting their training base to Leinz in Austria, the UAE started off with a 1-0 win over Romanian league runners-up FC Vaslui and then held Gabon to a 1-1 draw, only to follow this up with a 5-0 thrashing of a second string national side of Hungary.
Monday’s friendly against Honduras was a repeat of the two countries’ clash during the 2009 Fifa U-20 World Cup in Egypt. The UAE had then won by a solitary goal.
UAE defender Hamdan Al Kamali booted in the opener off a corner from Amer Abdul Rahman and then Ahmad Khalil missed to double the lead in the very next minute. Honduras regrouped well and got the equaliser through Valencia’s Anthony Lozano and then Wigan Athletic veteran Maynor Figueroa converted from the spot after coming in as a substitute.
“As you can see, we have had some good results during the course of the camp. One result like this cannot discard the hard work being put in by the coach and the players,” Al Sarkal added.
“We are confident that our team is peaking at the right time and it is only a question of time when we will get to see what this UAE team is capable of,” he said.
The UAE start their Olympic campaign in Group A with their opener against Uruguay at Old Trafford on July 26 followed by their second match against hosts Great Britain on July 29 and their final match against Senegal on August 1.
The UAE’s seventh and final friendly match will be against New Zealand on Thursday (July 19) before they travel to London on July 21.