Dubai: The UAE wrapped up their Spanish camp with a confidence-boosting 3-0 friendly win over Laos in Girona on Tuesday.
Ali Mabkhout got two before the half-hour, while Omar Abdul Rahman added the third with over 20 minutes remaining.
It registered a comfortable humbling of a team placed 101 positions below them in the world rankings.
The victory eases some of the pressure on the UAE’s under-fire Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni, who was rumoured to be for the chop heading into this fixture.
That was following Thursday’s lacklustre 2-0 friendly defeat to Trinidad and Tobago.
The UAE Football Association were forced to issue a statement denying that there was any truth in the rumours, while appealing to fans and commentators to stand by the team, and not confuse their preparations ahead of January’s all-important Asian Cup hosting.
It had seemed things were going to carry on in the same vein as that last match after the Whites missed two golden opportunities early on.
Mabkhout first struck wide from Amer Abdul Rahman’s long ball, and then Esmail Al Hammadi fired straight at the keeper after being put through on goal by Rayan Yaslam.
Their luck changed 24 minutes on, however, when Mabkhout found the bottom corner after being fed through by a quick one-two with Omar.
The Al Jazira striker then added his second two minutes later, curling in from just outside the area, after being fed by Amer.
Mabkhout had a chance to make it three before the hour but skied Omar’s chip over the crossbar.
UAE keeper Ali Khaseif was then called into play to make two saves up the other end, before Omar curled the third from a long shot into the top corner on the 67th minute.
This win represents the first time the UAE have scored more than one goal inside 90 minutes since Alberto Zaccheroni took over last October.
Within the Italian’s total 12 games in charge, including this fixture, they have now won four, drawn three and lost five, scoring just six goals in normal time.
With three of those goals coming in this match, they have in fact doubled their entire contribution from the last 11 games in this one fixture, making it a profitable run out indeed.
That said, a massive gulf in the rankings between the UAE and Laos leaves you questioning just how useful this game will be ahead of January’s Asian Cup, where hosts UAE are in Group A with far higher ranked India, Bahrain and Thailand.