Abu Dhabi: The UAE beat favourite Greece 2-0 (1-0, 1-0, 0-0) in the qualifiers for the Ice Hockey World Championship Division III to boost their hopes of a berth in the finals in South Africa next year.
The UAE, the only Arab country to have taken part in the finals of the IIHF World Championships in Luxembourg in 2010, are determined to repeat their feat after paving the way with the brilliant victory over fancied Greece.
The UAE avenged their 7-2 loss to the same opponents in the finals of Luxembourg with a dazzling performance at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink late on Sunday in the first day of the qualifiers.
While team captain Juma Al Dhaheri was in a class of his own, putting his team on the way to victory with a goal on 15:11 following a beautiful assist from Suhail Al Muhairi, Mubarak Al Mazrouei was also a star as he added the second goal from an Al Dhaheri assist.
But Khalid Al Suwaidi, the UAE custodian, should get the lion’s share of praise for his outstanding form in keeping the Greeks at bay and holding on to a clean sheet despite repeated serious attacking attempts.
“It was a good match and a brilliant result,” Al Dhaheri told Gulf News after the match. “We knew the strength of Greece and that was why we opted to face them in the opener. I am sure that this victory will be a good motivation for the team to continue its winning streak and book a place in the finals in South Africa.”
Both goaltenders, Al Suwaidi from UAE and Dalibor Ploutsis from Greece, were selected as the MVP for their teams.