Mohammed Fawzi scored twice as the UAE Olympic team beat Bangladesh 3-0 yesterday in their second Asian Games match in China to make up for their disappointing opening draw with Hong Kong.
The victory puts the Emirates top of the four-team Group E on four points and means they are virtually assured of a spot in the last 16 knockout stage. The top two teams from each of the six groups qualify, along with the four best third-placed nations.
Ahmed Khalil, the Al Ahli forward, opened the scoring in Guangzhou a minute into the second half and Fawzi made it 2-0 with a 20-yard volley in the 55th minute. He added the third goal eight minutes later.
"The team played very well and maintained ball possession throughout the first half," Mahdi Ali, the UAE manager, told a post-match news conference. "Our players had many chances to score but luck was not on their side. Khalil's first goal released the pressure on the players and boosted their desire to win."
Diyyab Awana, the UAE midfielder, immediately turned the focus to the next match, against Uzbekistan, a team comprising many of the players who lost to the Emirates in the final of the Asian Under 19 Championship in 2008.
"The real joy will come after overcoming Uzbekistan, clinching the top rank of the pool and qualifying for the second round," Awana said. The Uzbeks suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Hong Kong yesterday. They are third in the group on three points, while Hong Kong are level with the UAE.
* Compiled by Thomas Woods, with agencies