Jakarta: The UAE will be looking to put the heartbreak of their semi-finals loss to Japan behind and come up with an inspired performance when they take on Vietnam in the men’s football bronze medal match at the 18th Asian Games on Saturday. The action starts at noon UAE time.
The UAE Under-23 football coach Maciej Skorza, speaking on the eve of the encounter, revealed that the mood in the camp is good and his boys are raring to go.
“We lost the opportunity to compete for the gold or silver medal after losing to Japan but we are determined to beat Vietnam and clinch a bronze,” said Skorza. “The team very much deserves to return with a bronze for all the hard work that they have put in along with the members of the technical staff.”
The UAE’s road to the bronze medal clash was full of challenges. They advanced to the knockout stage only as one of the best four third-placed teams. They then needed penalties to see off Indonesia in the round of 16 and North Korea in the quarter-finals. It was a solitary late goal by Japan’s Ayase Ueda that sealed UAE’s hopes in the semi-finals.
“Though we lost against Japan, the players showed high level of intensity and discipline despite the fatigue that number of players suffered,” said Skorza asserting that the boys need to take advantage of this opportunity having come this far.
“Our players have to think about the future and give it everything. The success here can strengthen the team further before the qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which start from March.”
Vietnam, on the other hand, had a good run till the semis after topping Group E with a perfect record of three wins.
They got the better of Bahrain in the round of 16 and Syria in the quarter-finals before going down 3-1 to South Korea in the semi-finals.
Vietnam had not conceded once going into the last-four clash with South Korea and it will be test for the UAE forwards to break down their defence.
UAE will be hoping that Zayed Al Ameri, who has scored four of the UAE’s total haul of eight goals, will be once again at his best at this crucial match.
In the gold medal match all eyes will be on Son Heung-min when South Korea take on Japan.
The Tottenham Hotspur forward is just one win away from earning gold and getting an exemption from military service.
All South Korean men must complete 21 months service in the military, but exemptions are offered to athletes who win gold at the Asian Games or a medal at the Olympics.