In a period of farewells for football in the UAE, the capital of South Korea today laid on one big steaming going-out bash for their urbane visiting party. At the end of a wretched evening, it was farewell to Seoul, and farewell to any prospect of meandering towards the World Cup finals. A case of good night, and good luck.
In body and mind, the UAE were not strong enough, speedy enough or good enough. Not at the races since home defeats to North Korea and Saudi Arabia last month indicated that this would be a trying time in trying to pick up an invite to South Africa in 2010. As the saying goes, to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose. It was time to say farewell to Bruno Metsu last month, and it was time today for a flashy South Korea team to call time on any false hopes.
The UAE have replaced as manager a Michael Bolton lookalike with a man who is closer to Phil Collins, but their aspirations were receeding some time before they were subjected to some serious heat in Seoul. In the first half, South Korea moved forward like a wrecking ball and should have been at least five to the good. They will take 4-1, as should the UAE. It would have been of no surprise if the coach Dominique Bathenay, sporting an infectious frown, started this match with an Afro and lost it all by the break. The home side's forays forward were a constant source of concern, his side already lost.
At times, especially in a lopsided first half, this made for some squeamish viewing. The UAE stunk a 60,000 all-seater stadium out like a cesspit with their inability to get under the home side's skin. While Metsu watched his Qatar side erode in a 4-0 loss in Australia, Bathenay was not enjoying life in his first major experience running his new team. There should no recriminations, and Bathenay deserves time. The UAE lack the class and candour for this level, with this remaining a pointless exercise after three qualifying matches. It continues to be nice to reminisce about previous World Cup finals, and at least the UAE will always have Italy in 1990.
South Korea is instantly forgettable. @Email:email@example.com