Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

UAE manager Bert van Marwijk 'frustrated' after World Cup qualifier defeat in Thailand

Dutchman admits opponents deserved to win, despite star man Abdulrahman returning to his starting line-up

UAE manager Bert van Marwijk said he was “sad and frustrated” by his side’s 2-1 defeat to Thailand on Tuesday night – their first loss in qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

The national team’s 100 per cent start to the campaign came to an abrupt end at the Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit, when goals either side of Ali Mabkhout’s equaliser in first-half injury time condemned Van Marwijk’s charges to defeat. His team had opened Group G with victories against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Indonesia in Dubai.

The UAE, who restored Omar Abdulrahman to the starting line-up for the first time in almost one year, were outplayed for the majority by Thailand, with the Southeast Asians sealing the win through a Teerasil Dangda header on 26 minutes and an Ekanit Panya strike six minutes after half-time. They also twice struck the woodwork.

With the win, Thailand moved top of the group, while the UAE fell two places from the summit into third after Vietnam won 3-1 in Indonesia. They take on the second-placed Vietnamese next, in Hanoi, on November 14.

"The result of the match makes sense especially after the outstanding performance of the Thailand team, who deserved to win and lead the group,” Van Marwijk said. “But I was saddened after Thailand’s second goal, which me frustrated a lot, although I was happy with Mabkhout's goal. We tried to equalise, but we weren’t successful and could not translate the chances into goals.”

Despite being second best for much of the match, the UAE spurned a glorious opportunity to steal a point right at the death, but substitute Ahmed Khalil curled his effort from close range well off target. Earlier, the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai striker had rolled a shot across the Thailand goal from an admittedly tight angle.

"Although I am not satisfied with the performance, we were almost going to win the match, especially with the last opportunity in the second half and the final minutes of the match,” Van Marwijk said.

Ali Mabkhout, who with his equaliser took his tally this campaign to six goals in three matches, conceded his side did not play their best, although he backed them to bounce back next month in Vietnam.

“We are not very good, we played almost good,” said the UAE’s all-time leading goalscorer. “But that’s football, something that happens. It’s nothing [on our hopes of qualification]; if we win or we lose, it’s the same.

“We know Vietnam very well, they are a good team. But we will come back very strongly.”

Updated: October 16, 2019 07:46 AM

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