United Arab Emirates 4 Qatar 1
This fixture was always going to be a battle of the midfield maestro’s. From the beginning, all eyes were on the technical abilities of Omar Abdul Rahman (UAE) and Khalfan Ibrahim (Qatar). And they did not disappoint.
Qatar came into the bout full of confidence after their win in the recent 22nd edition of Gulf Cup – a tournament between regional Western Asian teams. However, with a young Emirati squad at manager Mahdi Ali’s side, it was expected of UAE to take the three points in Canberra, which they succeeded in doing in the 4-1 win at Canberra Stadium.
The first half was lively with both teams playing attacking football from the outset. But the Emirati’s dominated the first half in terms of attempted shots on. UAE should have opened the scoring in the 9th minute, when striker Ahmed Khalil did everything right in terms of pace and control to beat defender Ibrahim Majed but rounded the shot away from goal. A minute later, his striking partner Ali Mabkhout did the same from outside the six-yard box, after taking advantage of some lax defending from the Qatari’s.
Mid way through the half, it was the Gulf Cup champions that broke the deadlock as Khalfan Ibrahim precisely lobbed a weak clearance from the Emirati keeper Majed Nasser 22nd minute into the net which saw Nasser and Hamdan Al Kamali retreating to clear it out, but their efforts were in vain.
UAE had not played to their usual standard in the past few games, but when it mattered, they found a way to play their best.
Ahmed Khalil scored the equalizer, with 6 minutes to go in the half after some wonderful propelled play by Omar Abdul Rahman who managed to chase a dead ball and make something out it. The resulting play led keeper Burhan to clear the ball erroneously to Sanqour who eventually lobbed it back into the six-yard box hoping that it finds Ahmed Khalil’s head. His initial attempt was blocked by was able to tap in the rebound.
UAE looked confident thereafter, and their persistence paid off.
Khalil scored his second of the evening in the 51st minute with a full-contact free kick into the far post, which could only be observed by the helpless Burhan.
UAE’s Ali Mabkhout sealed the game after yet another mistake from the keeper who could only parry Khamis Esmael’s free kick on to Mabkhout’s feet for a simple tap in. The third goal ultimately took the wind out of the Qatari’s.
In the dying minutes, Mabkhout added his second of the evening after a pass and go play with Omar Abdul Rahman among a highly fortified defensive area.
This win takes them to the top of the table for the time being. Both teams will be hoping to pick up a win in the next round as UAE meets Bahrain and Qatar rallies against Iran.
Omar Abdul Rahman (UAE) He showed his class and sense of positioning in the middle as he set up the play for the equaliser. When it is his day, he can be brilliant and unstoppable and today was one of those days.
Qasem Burhan (Qatar) Much was expected of the keeper, but he failed to impress and made several ill-timed judgments which changed the out come of the game.
Omar Abdul Rahman keeping the ball in play resulting into the attack that saw Khalil’s first of the night.
Had chances to score early, with both Khalil and Mabkhout looking dangerous and coming close to scoring on several occasions. Were it not for the strong midfield showing from the Emirati’s, UAE would not have pulled through.
Much was expected from the Qatari’s however errors in the defensive end cost them the match.
UAE gathered themselves after their disappointing loss against Saudi Arabia in the recent Gulf Cup. Both teams did everything right from the kick-off but it was the Qatari’s who were not able to sustain it for 90 minutes. On the night, UAE’s midfield came up stronger than their rivals and their Mahdi Ali’s decision to field two strikers paid off with both scoring a brace each. Qatar will need to work on their defensive shape and strengthen it for the next game as they play Iran – a team who could potentially be one of the contenders to lift the trophy.