The National's Sport cover for the Friday, November 13 issue, featuring Ali Mabkhout and the UAE national team as they defeated East Timor 8-0 in World Cup qualifying.
John McAuley reports on the match, which took place on Thurdsay night in Abu Dhabi:
“Mahdi Ali’s side moved to within three points of their main rivals by defeating East Timor 8-0 at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday night. Khalil led the scoring with four goals, while Ali Mabkhout netted twice and substitutes Dawood Ali and Ahmed Al Attas each notched once.
“The UAE know if they are to stand a realistic chance of progressing to the final round of qualifying – only the top team are guaranteed to go through – they must take maximum points from their remaining three matches, which includes the campaign-concluding clash against the Saudis in Abu Dhabi next March. Before that, they travel to fourth-placed Malaysia and then host Palestine.”
Said UAE forward Ahmed Khalil:
“Now, the next step is more important. We have a different focus in every match, where each needs its own concentration, so we know what we need in qualification. We gave a good performance today against East Timor - it’s a positive step to the next stage – but we’re not thinking about the Saudi Arabia match. From here, we think only about Malaysia.”
Amith Passela also quotes UAE coach Mahdi Ali:
“It takes a little time for any team to get to know the opponents on the pitch and once the players got to know their strategy and then we attacked from the two sides to break the deadlock.
“Tonight the players didn’t hold back possession but tried to shoot at the goal on every opportunity. And it worked out well for us.”
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