UAE manager Bert van Marwijk said he was disappointed with his team's inability to convert chances in the 1-1 draw with Syria on Tuesday, but insisted he has "full confidence" in his players to kickstart their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in the upcoming matches.
Having taken a first half lead in Amman through Ali Mabkhout - the Al Jazira striker's 77th international goal which put him level with Pele on the all-time scoring charts - the UAE were pegged back by Syria substitute Mahmoud Al Baher midway through the second half.
Prior to Al Baher's equaliser, the UAE had several chances to build on their lead but had to settle for a point. It was a similar story in Dubai last Thursday when the UAE squandered a number of opportunities in the opening goalless draw against Lebanon.
“We had plenty of scoring opportunities in this game but once again we couldn’t find the back of the net, so it was a bit disappointing,” the Dutchman said of his team’s draw at the King Abdullah II stadium in Amman.
“We can take lot of positives forward from the two games, though. If we can keep creating the opportunities to score, I think we can still be challenging for the top two spots in the group.
“After taking the lead, we could have scored from the many chances we created. We had more chances to increase the lead in the second half and then regain the lead, but that didn’t happen.
“I am satisfied the way the team implemented their strategies but not really happy the way we wasted the opportunities. We had many chances to regain the lead in the last quarter but we weren’t lucky.”
After the opening two matches, the UAE sit third in Group A, four points behind leaders Iran who won both of their first two games, against Syria and Iraq. South Korea sit second on four points following a draw with Iraq and win over Lebanon. The top two teams from each group are guaranteed passage to the World Cup finals.
The UAE face a crucial double header next month when they play Iran on October 7 before taking on Iraq five days later, both on home soil.
Despite the stuttering start, van Marwijk is backing his players to bounce back.
“It is hard to predict what will happen in the upcoming matches," he said, "but I still have full confidence on my players to deliver in the matches ahead.”