Ahmed Khalil: UAE must take positives from draw with Bahrain in Asian Cup opener

Ahmed Khalil says the UAE must take whatever positives they can from their disappointing Asian Cup opener with Bahrain as they seek a rapid response against India on Thursday.

The hosts, staging the tournament for only the second time in the country's history, needed a late penalty to salvage a draw against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on Saturday in their opening Group A game.

Their Gulf neighbours appeared poised to upset Alberto Zaccheroni's side at Zayed Sports City Stadium, taking the lead in the 78th minute through Mohammed Al Romaihi’s goal.

However, the UAE were awarded a questionable penalty three minutes from time, which substitute Khalil coolly dispatched. The match marked the striker’s 100th appearance for his national team.

“Today was more important to not lose the game,” Khalil said afterwards. “The good thing is that we came back and the more important is we have to think about next game.

“Every player feels responsible for what’s gone on today and they think about the next game and to hopefully get three points, to see the solutions to get three points.”

The UAE were forced to toil for much of Saturday's proceedings in front of more than 33,000 supporters at Zayed Sports City.

Their preparations for the Asian Cup, expanded for the first time to 24 teams, had not been ideal, with injuries to key players headlined by Omar Abdulrahman’s absence, and their struggles in front of goal.

The UAE have now scored 12 goals in 19 matches since Zaccheroni was appointed in October 2017.

Khalil denied that the burden of being hosts had affected his side, who began brightly but then created very little.

“It’s not pressure,” Khalil said. “This is the first game and this is football. Sometimes you maybe don’t play well and you win. But in the tournament you have to give the maximum, you have to fight and you have to work more.


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“This is how we came back and we can do it for the next game: see which solutions we go for to get three points and hopefully we come back.”

Although the result was not what he wanted, Khalil will have been satisfied with his cameo performance.

Introduced with nine minutes remaining and with the UAE looked square at defeat, the forward did enough to earn what could prove to be a vital point. He dispatched his spot-kick expertly, despite there being little time left on the clock.

"No big pressure because this is penalty is not for me only," Khalil said. "It’s for all the team: they play for the penalty, for any point in the game.

"We have to work more, because sometimes the game is difficult to score and we have to get the solution as to how you score.

"But the good thing today is the penalty came at a good time, we came back and we have to continue. We have to work more."

The UAE next face India at the same venue on Thursday, with Bahrain taking on Thailand in Dubai on the same day.

Coming soon

Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura

When the W Dubai – The Palm hotel opens at the end of this year, one of the highlights will be Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Torno Subito, which promises “to take guests on a journey back to 1960s Italy”. It is the three Michelinstarred chef’s first venture in Dubai and should be every bit as ambitious as you would expect from the man whose restaurant in Italy, Osteria Francescana, was crowned number one in this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Akira Back Dubai

Another exciting opening at the W Dubai – The Palm hotel is South Korean chef Akira Back’s new restaurant, which will continue to showcase some of the finest Asian food in the world. Back, whose Seoul restaurant, Dosa, won a Michelin star last year, describes his menu as,  “an innovative Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent”.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The highly experimental chef, whose dishes are as much about spectacle as taste, opens his first restaurant in Dubai next year. Housed at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will feature contemporary twists on recipes that date back to the 1300s, including goats’ milk cheesecake. Always remember with a Blumenthal dish: nothing is quite as it seems. 


64 - Gavin Green (MAL), Graeme McDowell (NIR)

65 - Henrik Stenson (SWE), Sebastian Soderberg (SWE), Adri Arnaus (ESP), Victor Perez (FRA), Jhonattan Vegas (VEN)

66 - Phil Mickelson (USA), Tom Lewis (ENG), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Ross Fisher (ENG), Aaron Rai (ENG), Ryan Fox (NZL)

67 - Dustin Johnson (USA), Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (ESP), Lucas Herbert (AUS), Francesco Laporta (ITA), Joost Luiten (NED), Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Marcus Kinhult (SWE)

68 - Alexander Bjork (SWE), Matthieu Pavon (FRA), Adrian Meronk (POL), David Howell (ENG), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), Sean Crocker (USA), Scott Hend (AUS), Justin Harding (RSA), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Shubhankar Sharma (IND), Renato Paratore (ITA)

The Emperor and the Elephant

Author: Sam Ottewill-Soulsby

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Pages: 392

Available: July 11

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity


Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14


Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

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