Dream debut for UAE women

Fatima bint Mubarak scores the match-winner as the hosts seal a maiden victory in the West Asia women's football tournament.

Fatima bint Mubarak al Maleh, UAE's goal-scorer in the final, is seen in this earlier photo being tripped up by Palestine goalkeeper Jaklin Jazrawi on Saturday February 20, 2010.
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ABU DHABI // The UAE were crowned the new West Asian women's champions after a 1-0 win over the defending champions Jordan in the final last night at the Military Stadium. Fatima bint Mubarak al Maleh scored the only goal of the match with a fine solo effort in the 70th minute. She worked her way down the left flank and fired it from inside the box to send the home crowd into wild celebration. This was the first tournament experience ever for the women who had never played even 11-a-side until a few months before. Yet the hosts remained unbeaten throughout the week-long event. Jordan, the winners of the first two stagings of the championship since the inception in 2005, were unlucky on the night. They missed a flurry of scoring chances and saw three shots from Stephanie al Naber crash against the woodwork. The first was a free kick in the ninth minute and the other two from inside the box late in the game, including one in stoppage time. The UAE stopper Noura al Mazroui made an excellent save to deny al Naber in the first half.

Jordan did everything but score on the night. They enjoyed an abundance of possession and territory, and made several unsuccessful raids as the UAE defence held on until the end. The host team had great opportunity to go ahead but al Maleh was off target from 12 yards. Bahrain drew some consolation by taking the play-off for third with a 4-0 thrashing of Palestine in the preceding game. apassela@thenational.ae