Manchester: “We have prepared the team for this competition and hopefully we are ready for tomorrow,” a confident UAE coach Mahdi Ali said at the official press conference at Old Trafford on Thursday.
“We will play our football and ensure we have some minor changes to handle a team like Uruguay. They have a good team and some experienced players [Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani], but we have our plan in place,” the coach added.
Ali is hoping for all the support he can get from UAE nationals in the UK or from fellow Gulf nations.
“For us, this match is historic. For the past 28 years, we have been trying to compete in the Olympic Games in football and this is a dream come true,” Ali said.
“We didn’t come here as novices but as a team that has played at the highest level that has played some real tough matches at the top level. This group of players form the core of the squad that has played in the Asian Cup and the Fifa U-19 World Cup. We have come here to show that we deserve to be here,” he added.
“The UAE is such a small country, but we have loads of passion and confidence. This is our time to shine and the most important match is the first one tomorrow. This will be the key,” he stressed.
UAE captain Esmail Mattar continued in the same strain.
“We don’t think about individual players [Luis Suarez]. We respect them, but believe in ourselves and what we can achieve,” Mattar said.
“At this moment we are only thinking about tomorrow’s game. We have come here with good preparations and we believe we will be successful. We need to take things one at a time,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mattar’s teammate and main striker Ahmad Khalil has set a personal goal for this competition. “It’s great for a striker’s confidence to score goals, but now I am hoping to score in the competition so that I can win the Golden Boot at the Olympics,” Khalil said.