UAE defender Bandar Al Ahbabi says the team have consigned to the past last week’s disappointing draw with Lebanon in 2022 World Cup qualification as they look to bounce back against Syria.
The national team were held 0-0 in Dubai on Thursday in the opening match of the final round, but have the opportunity to respond immediately when they take on Syria in Jordan on Tuesday. Syria, who are playing their home matches at neutral venues, began Group A with a 1-0 defeat to Iran.
With only the top two spots guaranteeing a place in Qatar next year – third could still be enough, though – the UAE realise they must move on quickly from last week’s performance to keep on track their bid to make only the country’s second World Cup appearance.
“Our confidence in ourselves is great and was not affected at all by the Lebanon match,” Al Ahbabi said. “What happened against Lebanon is in the past – we think about it only to learn from its lessons.
“Everyone has shifted focus to the next match against Syria. We have sufficient experience to deal with all circumstances and overcome all challenges, and will give everything we have to come up with a positive result that improves our position in the group.
“We realise that the task is not easy, but we are determined to achieve the best possible result."
Teammate Ali Salmeen agreed that Syria would provide a strong challenge in Amman, saying the game required even more focus and commitment if the UAE are to return home with the three points.
However, the midfielder reiterated that there remains a long way to go on the road to Qatar, saying: "We played only one match and we have nine matches left. There are 27 points still to play for on the pitch. We have to fight to reap what we can from them to enhance our chances of reaching the World Cup."