Kolkata: The UAE, sitting in the second spot of Group G of their Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, will look to push table toppers Vietnam further with full points against bottom rankers Indonesia in Dubai on Friday. A hard-earned 3-1 win over Thailand in the previous game leaves them only two points adrift of table toppers Vietnam at 12 points in the second round of the qualifiers.
Bert Van Marwijk, the Whites’ head coach, praised his side for their ability to see off Thailand, whom he rated as arguably the toughest team in the group, last Monday. Vietnam now have 14 points from six matches, followed by the UAE (12) from same number of matches while Thailand have nine from seven matches. Only the group topper will qualify for the next round.
Caio Canedo, the naturalised Brazilian striker, who gave the hosts the perfect start with an early goal against Thailand, said after the win: “The weather was hot and that may have affected the performance of most of the players in the second half, and Thailand were more offensive after the break to try and level the scores.
“But the experience and skill of our players gave us the advantage and helped the team to win the game. We will focus more in the next two matches against Indonesia and Vietnam to achieve our goal.”
Juma Eid, who scored his first goal for UAE on Monday, said: “Playing in the national team with big players like Ali Mabkhout was a dream for me because I consider him my role model. I learned a lot from him.”
Mabkhout, one of the leading scorers in international football with 73 goals for the UAE, meanwhile exuded confidence that his team can reach the next round of qualification, irrespective of whether he is the one to fire the side through.
Asked about his profligacy against Thailand, Mabkhout told the UAE media: “Whether I scored in the match or someone else, the important thing is to win. I am always trying my best to help the team to win.
“Our main goal is to collect more points and qualify to the next stage on the way to securing our place in the World Cup 2022. As players, we are confident that we have the capabilities to achieve this dream.”
Meanwhile, Vietnam take on fourth-placed Malaysia at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Friday.