The United Arab Emirates face Kyrgyz Republic in a crucial encounter under the scornful eyes of their faithful at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The hosts have had a tough time getting past their opponents earning a total of five points across three group matches with two ties after coming back from a goal down and one luck inspired win against the Indians.
However, it is understood that they will need more than luck as they face their Central Asian opponents who have managed 43 shots on target (excluding blocked shots) in the three matches and finished third in their group behind South Korea and China.
Here is what you need to know prior to the kick-off.
There is none as they are about to play each other for the first time ever. What better match-up to identify the strengths of these two than this?
Kyrgyz Republic’s performance in the Asian Cup:
This is what Alexander Krestinin had to say regarding how they intend to approach the match:
“Now is the beginning of the games which are important and every mistake in this game can be decisive. This is a huge responsibility and now we are here and have the opportunity to play big matches with tomorrow being an interesting match.”
“We have done that and now, we have to work on completing the second task, which is to advance to the quarter-finals. We have been working in training and we have a plan to surprise UAE," said Krestinin.
One’s to watch:
Kyrgyz Republic: Striker Vitalij Lux whose much needed hat trick against the Philippines led to Kyrgyz Republic being part of the knockout rounds. In the pre-match conference the 29-yr-old footballer sounded very confident and raring to go.
“I think I can be decisive in such big games and I have scored in German cup and scored three goals in the tournament, its good days for us and I am in good shape. Why not?” said Lux going on to add a comment on the preparations.
“Our preparation for the match is going very well tactically and physically we are happy to be in the next round and we are all good.”
UAE: The Abyad’s will be looking at Ali Mabkhout to give them an immediate sense of comfort as the striker has not really performed to his complete potential as of yet. Perhaps the knockout rounds is what the former Asian Cup golden boot winner and a hunger driven attacker needs to reboot and rediscover his scoring touch.
Perspective on how Kyrgyz Republic will tactically focus against UAE:
Alexander Krestinin also addressed the differentiation of tactics between the two with the hosts preferring to sit back.
“This is tactics of the head coach of the UAE and we are a little bit of different. We can afford a balance between the defense and the offense. We are also aware that without being aggressive in the attack we can’t score goals.”
“To win against team that you don’t know much about them and don’t have anything to lose is difficult, but it’s important that UAE scores first to avoid any surprises.
Against Thailand especially in the first 30 minutes, UAE played very well and that’s because Zaccheroni decided to start the game as the players wanted (4-2-3-1). I hope he knows what to do to go through this tough game.”
Mohammed Ahmed – Emirati Football expert; views can be found on twitter via @action_news.
The sentiment from the Emiratis is clear at this stage of the tournament – fans and media alike do not fancy the hosts going far in the tournament. UAE will need to pull out all the cards possible to take away the much needed three points.
While it was clear that the Indians were hard done by luck against them, the match-up Thais conveyed a reality check signifying a lack of depth that exists within the squad.
Some have even questioned Zaccheroni’s tactics while few have even ventured as far as making a U-turn on their calls to sack former UAE national team manager – Mahdi Ali.
UAE continues to get outplayed in the defensive end, more specifically as it pertains to long balls and set pieces, which is where the match between the two could eventually be decided. Their opponents will be hungry with a vitalizing sense of belief as they have nothing to lose while their opponents have everything to, in this very contest.