Wednesday’s cover: UAE on the up after World Cup qualifying win over Iraq

Ahmed Khalil makes the cover of The National Sport on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 after the Al Ahli striker’s thunderous volley set the UAE on their way to a 2-0 win over Iraq in Tuesday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier in Abu Dhabi.

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Ahmed Khalil makes the cover of The National Sport on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 after the Al Ahli striker's thunderous volley set the UAE on their way to a 2-0 win over Iraq in Tuesday's 2018 World Cup qualifier in Abu Dhabi.

The reigning Asian Player of the Year broke the deadlock around the half-hour mark to give Mahdi Ali’s side a lead they did not relinquish. Substitute Mahdi Ali added a second at the death to the delight of the Emirati fans at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

At the halfway stage, the UAE sit fourth in Group B, locked on nine points with Australia, trailing second-placed Japan and pool leaders Saudi Arabia by one. Five matches left as they chase what manager Mahdi Ali has labelled their ultimate dream, the UAE’s mission to Moscow and beyond promises more twists and turns yet.

See also:

• Read Mahdi Ali's reaction and talk about his future here.

• Read the UAE match report here.

• Read a round-up of the Asian qualifiers here.

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