Dubai: The UAE’s warm-up for the Asian Cup continued with a productive 0-0 draw with Bolivia at Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Friday evening.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s men have had torrid preparation for their home tournament — which takes place in January — by having a last-minute cancellation by Egypt for Tuesday’s planned friendly. They have also won just one of their previous eight matches under the Italian, who in total has now won just four out 15 matches since taking charge last November.
In Friday’s clash with a team ranked 22 places above them in the Fifa standings, the UAE were far from overawed, taking the game to the visitors from kick-off and had a number of chances to open the scoring, but were let down by some poor finishing and a couple of great saves from Bolivia’s No. 1 Guillermo Vizcarra, who brilliantly stopped shots from Omar Abdul Rahman and Ali Mabkhout midway through the first half to keep the game goalless at half-time.
The Bolivians did give the home side a scare after 32 minutes when a goalbound effort had to be headed off the line by Omar Abdul Rahman.
The No. 59-ranked visitors started the second half in a more aggressive manner and the UAE defence had to look sharp to clear a number of half-chances inside the opening minutes.
The UAE came back and Mabkhout forced Vizcarra into another great save from a turn and shot as the hour mark approached. The Al Jazira striker saw another chance flash just past the post 10 minutes later.
With this being a friendly, a raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of play as the match petered out. While there was no winning goal, Zaccheroni can take heart from the way the UAE held their own against tougher opposition.