Omar Abdulrahman: UAE ‘need our stadium to be full’ for Australia clash
The UAE host the current Asian champions at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium looking to build on last week’s superb 2-1 victory in Saitama. Captain Ahmed Khalil’s double cancelled out Keisuke Honda’s early goal to seal an unlikely win for his side.
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The UAE next take on another continental powerhouse in Australia, who got the final qualification campaign for Russia 2018 off to a perfect start by defeating Iraq 2-0 on Thursday.
Abdulrahman called on the UAE to move on quickly from the Japan triumph and take another step towards clinching the country’s second appearance at a global finals.
“We have the right to be happy, but for only one day,” he said. “This page turns upon the first training in the UAE, because we now stand before a big challenge: to continue with the same level of performance. With this strong start, we have no excuse, we must continue with more confidence, to reach our goal and qualify for the World Cup.
“This generation deserves to qualify, and bring pride to UAE football. We are definitely capable of competing and reaching our goal. It was not easy to get to this point. We have been working towards qualification for one year, but we still have next year and nine matches to go.”
The UAE last played Australia at last year’s Asian Cup, losing 2-0 to the hosts in the semi-final in Newcastle. Abdulrahman said the team have learnt lessons from the defeat, but recognises the Australians represent another significant test of the team’s capabilities.
“It won’t be easy at all,” Abdulrahman said. “Australia are extremely strong and they use a completely different style to the Japanese, who rely on speed, technical moves and skill. Australia rely on physical strength, tactical discipline and exhausting their opponents.
“They come to the UAE aiming to win, so we have to fight on our home pitch to prevent that from happening. We have to win for the second successive time, which will help us at the end of our journey. But we need our stadium to be full, with more than 40,000 Emiratis to come and support their national team.”
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Published: September 4, 2016 04:00 AM