UAE go down fighting to South Korea in World Cup qualifier

New coach cannot avoid a third successive defeat for the national side but the FA president is still hopeful despite a 2-1 loss.

Ismael Matar shoots the ball to score the consolation goal past South Korea's Choi Hyo-jin in Suwon.
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The UAE’s already slim hopes of reaching the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup were further dented yesterday as they lost 2-1 to South Korea in Suwon.

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A third defeat in three games leaves the UAE bottom of the Group B and without a point.

Kuwait’s 2-2 draw away to Lebanon, a team who surprisingly beat the UAE 3-1, yesterday kept the Emirates five points adrift of a qualifying berth.

It means Abdulla Misfir’s men must now realistically win all three of their remaining games to stand any chance of making it through to the 10-team final stage, and hope that other teams slip up. But Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, the Football Association president has not given up hope.

“The team showed remarkable improvement from the two previous matches and a lot of credit should go to the new technical staff and, of course, the players who gave more than 100 per cent on the pitch,” he said.

“Everyone knows how strong the [South] Koreans are. It is a defeat from which we can take a lot of positives. I am sure the team can only get better after such a wonderful performance.

“And I still feel we are in the qualifying competition with nine points to play for.”

Park Chu-young, the Arsenal striker, scored his seventh goal in four games for the home side on 50 minutes.

Seo Jung-jin, making his first full appearance, threaded a pass through the middle of the UAE defence and Park rolled the ball past the goalkeeper from the edge of the area after 51 minutes.

Hamdan Al Kamali, the Al Wahda centre-back, put through his own goal 14 minutes later after getting his head on a Ki Sung-yung corner.

The Koreans had several chances to make it 3-0 before a last-minute strike from Ismail Matar which proved but a consolation for Misfir’s side.

Though the UAE lost, they put in a valiant effort to be level at half time against a side who have qualified for seven successive World Cups, with several European-based players in their squad.

Abdullah Saleh, the team manager, rued the missed chances. “We are disappointed at the end result because we played well and didn’t deserve to lose. We conceded both goals through our own mistakes and not because the Koreans were playing better.

“We created a few chances early in the game and had we scored from those opportunities it would have been different altogether.

“It was a great effort from the players. I thought they deserved more. Even one point could have been a reward.

“Nevertheless, it was a moral victory after two disappointing results. We were in a difficult situation anyway and now it has become more difficult.”

South Korea travel to the UAE for the next match in November.

Hassan Maatouk scored a brace for Lebanon, in the 15th and 85th minutes, but Kuwait drew level through Mesaed Neda Al Enezi five minutes after the interval and an own goal two minutes from time.