The UAE were knocked out of the Fifa Arab Cup on Friday night, losing 5-0 to hosts Qatar in the quarter-final in Al Khor.
The national team, who qualified from the group stages as runners-up in their pool, conceded all five goals before half-time at a packed Al Bayt Stadium as the current Asian Cup champions ran rampant.
The UAE got off to the worst possible start, when an unprompted mistake from Mohanad Salem led eventually to an Ali Salmeen own goal. Seeking to thwart Qatar forward Akram Afif from tapping into the empty net, the Al Wasl midfielder could only divert a ricochet into the goal. There were only six minutes on the clock.
Qatar doubled their lead just before the half hour, when a Mahmoud Khamis handball gifted the home side a penalty. Striker Almoez Ali converted from the spot.
On 36 minutes, Qatar were awarded another penalty following another series of mistakes from the UAE, with Salmeen first giving away possession and goalkeeper Ali Khaseif then bringing down Ali as Salem attempted to stop the Qatar forward. A VAR review eventually confirmed the infringement. This time, Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi kept his cool from 12 yards, sending the ball high into the corner.
Abdulaziz Hatem made it 4-0 a minute before half-time, the midfielder sweeping a beautiful right-footed shot into the top corner following a pull-back from Afif. Then, in stoppage time, the UAE’s woes were complete. Khaseif’s misplaced pass allowed Qatar to pounce, Afif then rolling in Ali who got his second of the night.
Speaking to a pitchside reporter immediately after the final whistle, shocked UAE manager Bert van Marwijk said: “First of all, it’s the first experience in my life, in my whole career. It sounds crazy, but in the first half we played good football. Only that actually we made all the goals ourselves, at least four. If you make such mistakes, the goals, then you get a game like this. It’s crazy.
“We do our utmost best all the time, we prepared the team as good as possible, very well I think, and there was confidence. You saw it in the beginning the way we play. We were better. It sounds crazy, for the third time, but if you make such mistakes... we gave the goals away ourselves."
Qatar, next year's Fifa World Cup hosts, will take on either Morocco or Algeria, with the North Africans facing off in their last-eight clash in Doha on Saturday. Tunisia are through to the last four already after defeating Oman 2-1 earlier on Friday.