The UAE ended their Asian Games campaign in Indonesia by winning a bronze medal in the football competition on Saturday.
They beat Vietnam 4-3 on penalties at Pakansari Stadium in Bogor, a city south of Jakarta on Java Island, following their 1-1 deadlock in the third-place play-off.
Victory took the UAE's Asiad medal tally to 14, including three golds, six silvers and five bronze.
Ahmed Al Hashmi put the Emirates ahead with a low shot from the edge of the area after a fine solo run on 17 minutes, only for Nguyen van Quyet to score the equaliser 10 minutes later. The UAE resisted a spirited challenge from the Vietnamese in the dying stages of the game, forcing a shootout.
They had the advantage from the outset after Vietnam’s Nguyen Quang Hai sent the opening shot wide. Eventually, Mohammed Al Shamsi made an excellent save on Tran Minh Vuong’s effort, sparking celebrations in the UAE camp.
It was a creditable performance from a side that had scraped through to the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams after having lost two of their three group games, to Syria and China.
Thereafter, they overcame hosts Indonesia and North Korea, also in penalty shootouts, before going down to Japan to a late goal in the semi-finals.
It is only the second time the UAE have won a football medal at the Asiad. Mahdi Ali’s Under 23 side took home silver after being beaten by Japan in the final of the 2010 Games at Guangzhou, China.
The same side went on to become the first from the country to qualify for the Olympics - at London 2012.
Manager Maciej Skorza will be eyeing a spot in Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as they begin preparations for the qualifiers, starting in March next year.
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