Dubai: The UAE put up a spirited display against Slovakia in their 2-1 King’s Cup opening defeat in Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on Thursday.
Albert Rusnak and Michal Duris had the Slovakians 2-0 up before the interval, before Ahmad Khalil pulled one back with 17 minutes remaining.
Rusnak put Slovakia in front on 42 minutes after running onto a pass cut back by Patrik Hrosovsky and slotting in from the tightest of angles. Duris then headed in the second six minutes later from Peter Pekarik’s cross, deep into first half stoppage-time.
Slovakia had started the half brightest with Robert Mak hitting a half volley over and Tomas Hubocan grazing the cross bar both inside the first 10 minutes; while the UAE’s best first half chance came when Ahmad Khalil struck wide after being put through with a ball over the top on 31 minutes.
Khalil headed another effort wide from a cross on the hour and Rusnak was twice stopped by keeper Khalid Eisa, before Khalil finally pulled one back on 73 minutes after being put through by Rayan Yaslam and drilling in. Khalil could have also got an equaliser deep in stoppage time after running onto a long ball forward but he hurried his chip in front of out-rushing keeper Martin Dubravka and watched his effort balloon over.
The UAE will now play the loser of Thursday’s other semi-final between hosts Thailand and Gabon in Saturday’s third-place play-off from 1.30pm (UAE time). Slovakia will play the winners of that match in the final from 4.30pm (UAE time) on Saturday. The King’s Cup is an annual four-team friendly tournament held in Thailand. This is only the UAE’s second appearance, having finished fourth in 2016.