Jakarta: UAE lost their final football Group C fixture at the 18th Asian Games to China 2-1 at the Jalak Harupat Soreang stadium in Indonesia but have still managed to scrape through to the round of 16 as one of the six best third-placed teams.
China, who rallied from a goal down to turn the tables on UAE, topped the group with nine points while Syria having thrashed East Timor 4-1 at the Wibawa Mukti stadium settled for the second spot with six points. UAE with their lone win against East Timor were third with three points.
UAE started off well and with Mohammad Al Mesmari finding the net with a neat connect they led soon after the half an hour mark. The Chinese, however, remained undeterred and struck back six minutes later.
Wei Shi Hao dribbled past defender Khaled Al Dhanhani and curled in a right footer into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Just before the breather, UAE had a chance of regaining the lead. Al Mesmari was spot on to nod home a free-kick but an alert Chinese goalkeeper Wei Chen did well to push it wide.
The match-winner for China came in the 71st minute due to a goalkeeping blunder by Mohammad Al Shamsi. Yao Jun Sheng caught Al Shamsi slightly out of position and sent in a fierce 40-yard shot into the back of the net.
Trailing by a goal, Maciej Skorza’s side pressed hard but were well kept at bay till the final whistle.
With four best third-placed teams allowed to progress to the round of 16, UAE lived to fight for another day. The last time the UAE failed to make it past the group was in 2006 in Doha and at Busan, South Korea in 2002. They made it to the final in Guangzhou before losing the title clash to Japan. In the 2014 Incheon, South Korea, UAE had made it to the quarters.
Elsewhere, UAE’s challenge in the men’s epee individual in fencing came to an end with Abdullah Al Hammadi crashing out in a close contest (12-13) to Vietnam’s Den Nguyen Phuoc in the round of 32.
In men’s trap shooting, UAE’s Hamad Al Kendi with a total score of 70 from his three rounds of 22, 24, 24 was 10th. Emirati pair of Marwa Mahboub and Ahmad Al Hafeeti failed to impress in the air rifle mixed doubles — so did Ahmad Ebrahim and Wafa Khamis in the pistol mixed doubles.