Dubai: UAE Under-23 football coach Maciej Skorza says his team aren’t scared of anyone ahead of their Asian Games semi-final against Japan from 4.30pm (UAE time) on Wednesday.

The Junior Whites snuck through their group as the fourth of four best third-placed sides after defeats to Syria 1-0 and China 3-1 either side of a 4-1 win over East Timor. They then went on to beat both Indonesia and North Korea on penalties to get this far.

“Our level rises from one game to the next and the players have a strong personality, so there is no fear from them to face anyone,” said Skorza.

“We deserved to qualify for the semis after a wonderful effort from the players against North Korea.”

Despite now having gone through two bouts of extra time and penalties, he added: “The players have compensated for their fatigue with a high morale and commitment to the style of play.

“Our ambition is to win but it won’t be easy and will require high concentration, especially as Japan has quick and skilful players.

“Nevertheless I again trust them to continue appearing in a distinctive way to achieve what the UAE fans expect.”

Ali Al Yahyaee, who netted the equaliser against North Korea in normal time, said: “Our joy would be completed if we can beat Japan and make it to the final to compete for gold. The players are determined to show the level that qualifies them to achieve that desired result.

“Everyone is working for the same single goal, to put in an honourable performance for the UAE and to add to the achievements of earlier UAE sides.”

This is the UAE’s fifth Asian Games football appearance. Their best finish was a silver medal in 2010. In Wednesday’s other semi-final South Korea take on Vietnam from 1pm UAE time.


Today (UAE times)

Vietnam v South Korea, 1.30pm

Japan v UAE, 4.30pm