Jakarta: After scraping through to the round of 16, the UAE will be facing hosts Indonesia in the 18th Asian Games football tournament at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium on Friday.
The UAE finished third in Group C behind China and Syria but still progressed as one of the four best third-placed teams in the competition, along with Hong Kong, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
UAE had lost 1-0 to Syria and 2-1 to China but it was their 4-1 win over East Timor that helped them get through. The UAE team’s Polish coach Maciej Skorza has urged his players to up their game and make the opportunity count.
“I have full confidence in my players’ ability to reach a positive result tomorrow. They are very much capable of booking their place in the quarter-finals of the competition,” said Skorza, adding that the task won’t be easy.
“I spoke with the players and asked them not to let go of this chance. They need to give it their all to win and qualify. The victory will do a world of good to their confidence and have tremendous impact.” Skorza accepted his team were not at their finest during the group stages.
“Yes, the Whites didn’t show their best level but they still shouldn’t have lost the matches against Syria and China,” he said. “We played well in those two games but missed a lot of scoring opportunities
Skorza insisted that qualifying through as one of the four best third-placed teams doesn’t mean that his side has lost their sheen.
“It has not diminished our capabilities as a team,” he said. “The players have been working really hard and their performance has improved with every match.”
Skorza will be missing the services of midfielder Jasim Yaqoub and central defender Majid Sorour for the crucial tie. Yaqoub has returned to UAE after medical tests showed he needed further treatment and rest following back injury that he sustained during the contest against East Timor.
Indonesia will be going into the contest pumped up. They will have 25,000-odd spectators rooting for them and the confidence will be sky high after having registered a dramatic 3-1 win over Hong Kong.
Indonesia en route to the knockouts thrashed Chinese Taipei 4-0 before losing 2-1 to Palestine. They came back strongly to hand Laos a 3-0 drubbing.
“I don’t know exactly how the UAE plays but we have done our homework in the last four days. We know they have a good soccer culture. We have made a good use of the break we had and we are good to go,” said Indonesia coach Luis Milla.
The match between UAE and Indonesia will start tomorrow at 4pm UAE time.