Katanec still keen to go for the Gulf Cup

The UAE coach is confident his squad in Yemen will rise to the occasion and make up for the absence of several key players.

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Srecko Katanec, the UAE coach, is confident his Gulf Cup squad will rise to the occasion and make up for the absence of several key players.

The eight-team tournament got underway last night amid tight security in Aden, Yemen.

The UAE, winners in 2007 when they hosted the competition, will open their Group B campaign tonight against Iraq, the Asian champions.

Katanec had to travel with a depleted squad as many of his key players are with the Olympic team at the Asian Games in China, and he was not permitted to select any players from Al Wahda, who are preparing for the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi from December 8 to 18.

"The players with whom I travelled are the key players for their clubs," Katanec said. "I have complete faith and confidence these players will rise to the occasion. They are representing the country and there is no better way to show their loyalty than a good performance on the pitch.

"Our approach in this competition will be to win every game. We are serious about winning the title. We may be a depleted side but that doesn't mean we are not competitive."

Katanec is likely to start with the same line-up which beat India 5-0 in a friendly in Dubai last Thursday for tonight's game.

Saeed al Kas will spearhead the attack with Sultan Bargash al Minhali or Ali Mabkhout, his Al Jazira teammate who has been in fine form for his club, his likely partner up front.

Subait Khater will marshal the midfield along with Maher Jassim, Amer Mubarak and Ali al Wehaibi. Walid Abbas, Khalid Sabil, Yousef Jaber and Fahad Feraish should form a back four with Majed Naser in goal.