Paulo Bento
Paulo Bento started managing the UAE in July 2023 Image Credit: AFP

UAE coach Paulo Bento is confident his side can continue their 100 per cent record in 2026 World Cup qualifying against Nepal this evening.

The UAE have already booked their place in the third round of World Cup 2026 qualifying after a resounding 3-0 triumph against Yemen in March.

That result made it four wins from four this campaign, with The Whites scoring 11 and conceding just one in the process.

While the UAE are certain of a top-two finish in Group H, first place isn’t yet guaranteed, with Bahrain, who play Yemen this evening, hot on their heels, just three points behind in second place.

The two will meet next week in the final match day at Zabeel Stadium where, depending on how results go tonight, a Bahrain victory could see them leapfrog the UAE at the top of the table.

With that in mind, Bento knows how important it is for the UAE to continue their winning streak this evening at the Prince Mohamed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam – Nepal’s Dasharath Stadium does not meet the required standards set by the Asian Football Confederation.

“A very important match awaits us, during which we strive to perform at the required level and achieve full points to strengthen our lead in the group,” said Bento.

The reverse fixture, which was Bento’s first competitive game leading the UAE, saw the Emiratis secure a commanding 4-0 triumph at Al Maktoum Stadium.

The UAE Pro League’s all-time top scorer Ali Mabkhout, Khalifa Al Hammadi and Fábio Lima bagged goals that evening, but the trio will all be missing from tonight’s squad.

Lima and Al Hammadi, along with Caio Canedo and Khaled Al-Dhanhani, have been ruled out with injury, while Mabkhout wasn’t selected for the squad again after falling out of favour with Bento due to his “really bad” performance and attitude in training earlier this year. Sultan Adil will also miss out through suspension.

Despite losing several key members of his squad, Bento has full faith his team possess the tools to get the job done against a side who are ranked 178th in the world and have lost four from four this campaign.

“We are playing the match in the absence of a large number of players due to injury and suspension, but my confidence has no limits in the rest of the players to accomplish the task successfully,” said Bento.