Being confident is ok but it could come to bite you on the backside if you fail to perform. You are then a victim of indictments, from the media to the fans; you will be accused of nonsense and not paying ample respect to your adversary.

Aussie centre-back Trent Sainsbury, was fortunate enough to be on the winning side after the buoyant comments he made against the “work-rate” of Omar Abdul Rahman and attempting to “choke” the UAE national team. To add to his self-assurance, Sainsbury had earned a goal for the Socceroos.

“He’s not the hardest worker and I think we can exploit that,” Sainsbury said in the lead-up to the game.

“He has just got that arrogance about him … to keep him playing backwards would be a good plan for us. If we can … get in his face and not let him get his head up hopefully we can stop him.”

His assumption of Omar Abdul Rahman was right, because as sublime his skill and vision maybe, he does not enjoy having opponents who harry and pressure him from the start, preventing him from having time to settle on the ball and dictate the tempo and rhythm of the game.

From the time the match between the two was announced, favour was always falling towards the hosts with their hot streak of wins. However, there was also reason to believe that UAE could cause an upset, just like they did against the Japanese.

The back four of the UAE had a few tasks on hand, among them was to maintain Tim Cahill, which they successfully fulfilled as he was irritated every time he had the ball. But their concentration on the attacking prowess of the Aussies left them undermining the abilities of their defenders to get on the scoresheet.


All it took was the first 20 minutes for the hosts to show their might against the Emiratis. One would think that the Emiratis might have studied the Aussies reliance on long balls, set pieces and whipped crosses and they would have been prepared for it. The first blow came at the hands of the Sainsbury who left unmarked, was able to get a head on a Luongo taken corner-kick in the 3rd minute. At least nine Emiratis were present in the box to defend, but they could not.

The second came eleven minutes later in the 14th minute, when a failed attempt to clear a cross resulted in the ball tumbling towards Luongo who then placed it for left back Davidson to take the dispatch it past Maged Nasser for the second of the night.

The most improved element of the Australian game since their time in the international tournaments would have to be the consistency behind being able to commit four or more players in the box as a cross is attempted.
At this point, it looked like the game is going to turn out for the worse in the case of the visitors, one only praying that the team leaves with some dignity. Or even hoping that coach Mahdi Ali can pull a Rafa Benitez of the 2005 UEFA Champions League.

But it was not the case; both teams had equal number of shots at goal, by the end of the night. That was because the Aussies did not really do much after the two goals with the style of play being very coherent. They were able to maintain a structure that irritated Ahmed Khalil, Ali Mabkhout and 3moory himself, the former two barely attempting to bother GK Matt Ryan. Omar Abdul Rahman was the best player on the pitch for the Emiratis as he attempted to break the Aussie defense with his slick passing on several occasions. His support group in the midfield was basically non-existent until Hammadi was introduced in the second half. His pace drew in the defenders giving Omar the space he needed. It also looked like the defensive line would crumble after the onslaught in the first 20 minutes but had their feet on the ground and blocked every attempt by the Aussies to add more to the score line.

In the end, it is Australia that will now host South Korea at Stadium Australia in the final of the Asian Cup on Saturday night. Rest assured, while the Emiratis fight for third place against Iraq, they would leave Australia with their heads high after a terrific campaign, which placed them in the Asian teams to watch list, if it exists.

For coach/Engineer Mahdi Ali who has done everything right since his appointment 8 years ago, it will be a time to nourish this group of youngsters as the qualification stages for the 2018 World Cup approaches.

And confidently, this group of young Emiratis will now be noticed.


  1. Hamdan Abu Tareq Reply

    We have learned how to deal with the toughest teams in Asia now. Who is next?

  2. Khamis Bukhatir Reply

    Don’t know what happened to Amer, he was playing good in all matches. He will get better, he is only young. Mahdi Ali will make him better and then they will make us prooud. Inshllah Khair.

  3. Jamie Curras Reply

    UAE surprised all of us in Australia. This team if given the right mentorship should be able to go places. Just don’t think Mahdi Ali is the right person to take them to a tournament like the World Cup. Good coach but somewhat like Moyes.

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