Postecoglou, with nod to Omar Abdulrahman, says UAE have players who ‘can cause us problems’
ABU DHABI // Australia manager Ange Postecoglou says his side will not be content with a draw from Tuesday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against the UAE.
The Asian champions take on Mahdi Ali’s men at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Group B’s second match day, with both teams opening their respective campaigns last week with victories.
Australia defeated Iraq 2-0 in Perth to top the group at this early stage of the final qualification for Russia 2018, while the UAE registered a shock 2-1 triumph against Japan in Saitama.
However, when asked on Monday if Australia consider one point to be a satisfactory outcome from their clash with the UAE, Postegcolou bluntly replied: “No.”
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Postecoglou has earlier told the Australian press that he thought the UAE would be “fearful” of his team. The two sides met most recently at last year’s Asian Cup, with Australia winning 2-0 in the semi-final following two early goals. They went on to defeat South Korea 2-1 after extra time in the final. The UAE eventually saw off Iraq 3-2 to take third.
Postecoglou, though, said that should have little bearing on Tuesday night’s encounter in the capital.
“I think both teams have progressed,” he said. “We certainly have if you look at the team we had out on that day for the semi-final. We feel like we have improved and progressed, and the UAE have, as well.
“From our perspective, that was a tough game and we expect another tough game. Our focus is on ourselves. We respect every opponent we play.”
Stopping Omar Abdulrahman is certain to be crucial to Australia’s chances of departing Abu Dhabi with the points. The UAE playmaker has become one of the most recognisable names in Asian football, and was at his influential best in the second half against Japan last week.
At last year’s Asian Cup in Australia, Abdulrahman played a prominent role in the UAE’s best finish on foreign soil, earning many admirers among Australian football fans and the hosts’ media, too.
Yet, with Ali Mabkhout the tournament’s top scorer and Ahmed Khalil the current Asian Player of the Year, Postecoglou said the UAE are far from being purely reliant on Abdulrahman.
“I certainly do not think the UAE are a one-man team,” he said. “They have quality throughout their team. We obviously analyse every team in the same way, with their strengths and weaknesses.
“There are individuals within that who can cause us problems, but we always look at the opposition team as a whole. We are working together as a team to overcome their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses.”
Australia have almost a full team to choose from for the match against the UAE, although captain Mile Jedinak is considered a slight doubt. The Aston Villa midfielder suffered a kick to his leg in the victory against Iraq, but still hopes to be available for selection.
Australia, currently ranked 57th in the world by Fifa, are vying to qualify for their fourth successive World Cup.
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Published: September 5, 2016 04:00 AM