Fabio De Lima has described the next month’s qualifier against South Korea as “the most important game of our life” as the UAE attempt to turn around their flagging World Cup qualification campaign.
The national team, seeking to reach only a second global finals in the country’s history, remain winless through the opening four matches of the final round following a disappointing double-header this month. The UAE were beaten 1-0 by Iran on October 7 and then held five days later to a 2-2 draw against Iraq, with both fixtures played at home.
Subsequently, Bert van Marwijk’s side sit fourth in Group A, five points off the two automatic qualification spots and two behind Lebanon in third. Third place offers a route to Qatar 2022 via a series of play-offs.
Speaking to social media outlet UAE Soccer, De Lima said: “We still have chance to go to World Cup. Now we concentrate for the next six games. The most important game in our life is the next game against South Korea. We hope to go there and win.
“About the future, we have very good players in the national team. We have very good quality. We need a little bit more luck to win the games. And we want to win in our stadium and take some points outside.”
Against Iraq last week, the national team were left to rue a late, late decision by the Video Assistant Referee. In what proved the final kick of the game at the Zabeel Stadium, Khalfan Mubarak thought he had snatched a 3-2 victory for the hosts, only for the officials to deem the ball had not crossed the line before Iraq goalkeeper Fahad Talib tipped away the shot.
De Lima said: “About the last game for the national team, I think we had hard luck. We win the game, but the referee didn’t give the last goal. And we [miss] many chances in the games, but this happens.”
The UAE face second-placed South Korea away on November 11 before travelling again to take on Lebanon five days later. Iran top Group A with 10 points, with the Koreans two points behind. The UAE have three points having drawn three of their four matches.