Al Jazira manager Damien Hertog is confident striker Ali Mabkhout and midfielder Khalfan Mubarak will replicate their club form at the 2019 Asian Cup and play key roles in the UAE's campaign.
Mabkhout and Mubarak were two of three Jazira players to start the UAE's frustrating opening draw to Bahrain on Friday – the third was full-back Fares Juma – while goalkeeper Ali Khaseif and defender Khalifa Al Hammadi complete the Abu Dhabi club's contingent in Alberto Zaccheroni's squad.
Mabkhout, 28, has been prolific for Jazira in the Arabian Gulf League this season, topping the competition's scoring charts with 15 goals, while 23-year-old Mubarak has eight goals and nine assists to his name.
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Unfortunately for the national team, neither player carried their domestic form on to the international stage against Bahrain, but Hertog insists they have too much quality not to make a big difference at the Asian Cup.
“They have the skills and quality to continue their form so I expect to see that as the tournament progresses,” said Hertog, who was appointed Jazira manager last month.
“They are obviously very good players, but their talent goes beyond that as they also make great decisions on the field that we have seen make a difference on regular basis this season. It gives them a lot of confidence and that spreads throughout their teammates during training sessions and games.
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“They are skilful players and will be in a good environment in the national team. They will fit in together and I think things will happen for the national team. Like everyone else, I would love to see the UAE team going far in the tournament, which would be a brilliant way to celebrate being the hosts of the Asian Cup.”
The UAE next face India, who produced a stunning upset by thrashing Thailand 4-1 in the other Group A match, on Thursday at Zayed Sports City stadium.