UAE manager Rodolfo Arruabarrena has accepted responsibility for his team's disappointing opening loss to Bahrain at the Arabian Gulf Cup in Iraq.
The UAE began their quest for a third Gulf Cup crown by falling to a 2-1 defeat against holders Bahrain at Al Minaa Stadium in Basra on Saturday.
Second-half goals from Komail Al Aswad and Jassim Al Sheikh put Bahrain in the driving seat while UAE substitute Sebastian Tagliabue's injury-time header proved little more than a consolation.
Next up for the UAE will be Kuwait on Tuesday as they look to kick-start their stalled Group B campaign, with Arruabarrena urging his team to refocus and “not give up” on their tournament hopes.
“We came to compete for the title and win the cup,” said the Argentine coach. “We have two matches left, and we have not reached the desired level yet … I bear the loss [to Bahrain], and we must not give up.
“We rested today, and we [need to] have a strong match in two days. The loss is painful, but we have to work and focus on the next match.”
Arruabarrena admitted his team failed to build on a promising start to the game. “We controlled the first 20 minutes, then the level fell,” he added. “We tried to control, but with the first goal we lost organisation and there were naive mistakes, and in the end we lost.
“We started the second half with the goal of scoring first, but the opposite happened. We will analyse the match and deal with the mistakes that appeared today. I take responsibility for the loss.”
Bahrain manager Helio Souza admitted the UAE started the game well but, in the end, his team had been worthy winners.
“A difficult match during the first quarter of an hour, but after that we gained confidence, and we were the best [team] in my opinion.
“In the second half, we created chances and scored. We were the best and deserved to win. I am proud of my players, and whatever the results … I trust them and am proud of them.”
Kuwait also started their campaign with a defeat on Saturday, losing 2-0 against Qatar at the Olympic Port Stadium, with Amro Surag and Ahmed Alaaeldin scoring in the first half for the World Cup hosts who sit top of the group on goal difference.
“The coming matches will be finals for us,” said Kuwait manager Roy Pinto. “We have to forget the result [against Qatar] and work to avoid mistakes, as there is no room for any error.”
After a rest day on Sunday, the Arabian Gulf Cup continues with the second round of Group A matches on Monday, when Oman take on Yemen and tournament hosts Iraq face table-toppers Saudi Arabia.