Indian National Football Team: Know Your Rivals - UAE

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Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers' opponents in their second Group A game of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in Abu Dhabi...


QUICK FACTS


Country: United Arab Emirates

FIFA Ranking: 79

Nickname: The Whites (Al-Abyad)

Last match played: UAE 1-1 Bahrain (5 January 2018)

Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni


TEAM PROFILE


UAE team training Asian Cup 2019

Even before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had a professional domestic structure, they had managed to make it to the FIFA World Cup, in 1990. They had lost all their games in the tournament managed to score against eventual champions West Germany.

It has been quite the journey since then for the team. They have qualified for each and every edition of the Asian Cup barring 2000 edition. Their best finish was as runners-up in 1996, coincidentally the last time they hosted it. They lost out to Saudi Arabia in the final on penalties at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

Furthermore, the Emiratis managed a third-placed finish in 2015 and it makes them favourites to breeze through Group A and reach the quarter-finals this time around.

Regionally, UAE have won the Gulf Cup only twice - 2007 and 2013. They could have added a third to their cabinet twelve months ago but lost to Oman to settle for their fourth second-placed finish in the tournament's history.

Leading their charge into the Asian Cup will be a respected Italian coach in Alberto Zaccheroni who has been there and done that with Japan in 2011. The 65-year-old has also been at the helm of affairs at Juventus and both Milan clubs, winning a Scudetto in 1999, making him one of the most high-profile coaches in this edition of the Asian Cup.
 

RECENT PERFORMANCES


UAE 3-1 Thailand

Ever since Zaccheroni's appointment in October 2017, Al Abyad haven't been showing much promise in terms of victories. Going into the tournament, UAE had won only a mere 4 out of 17 games with only nine goals scored during this period. Even the Gulf Cup final defeat last year did not help Zaccheroni's cause.

Results under the Italian include defeats to Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Gabon and Kuwait in the runup to their Asian Cup opener against Bahrain.

However, the UAE did manage to hold Bolivia in November, who were ranked much higher than the Middle-Eastern side. Zaccheroni's contract expires on 1st February - the day of the Asian Cup final and he too will be under immense pressure to complete a turnaround or risk facing the fate of Milovan Rajevac, the Thai coach who got the sack immediately, mid-tournament, after losing to India.
 

LESSONS FROM THE PAST



Most recent meetings include two games in 2011, as part of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. UAE won their home leg 3-0 with Ismail Al Hammadi, in the current squad, scoring one. Jeje Lalpekhlua helped himself to a goal back in New Delhi as the game ended 2-2 - the only ever draw between these two sides.

The highest margin of victory for UAE remains a 5-0 thrashing in 2011 and for India is a 3-0 win in 1988. They have faced each other once previously in the Asian Cup finals, in 1984 when the UAE won 2-0.
 
H-2-H GAMES IND WINS DRAWS UAE WINS GOALS (IND) GOALS (UAE) GD [IND] WIN % [IND]
IND v UAE 11 2 1 8 7 24 -17 18.18 %
 

TEAM COMBINATION


UAE Possible XI INdia

2016 Asian Player of the Year, Omar Abdulrahman, is being sorely missed by UAE. 'Amoory' could have proved to be the link between the midfield and forwards but the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is sidelined with an ACL injury.

Against Bahrain, Ahmed Khalil did not start but he converted from the spot after coming on in the second half in his 100th appearance.

In attack, UAE largely play a 4-3-3 with Khalil hovering behind Ali Mabkhout but both of them complement each other up top in the starting lineup. Omar's brother, Mohammed is also in the squad but his Al Ain clubmate Khalid Eisa, fresh off a Club World Cup final against Real Madrid, will be expected to be a solid presence in goal.
 

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR



Ali Mabkhout: 2015 Asian Cup's top scorer Ali Mabkhout, with 46 international goals is 7 strikes away from overtaking UAE's all-time record goalscorer Adnan Al Talyani. He showed glimpses of superior attacking nous during the game against Bahrain and will be desperate to convert against India.

Ali Mabkhout UAE

Ahmed Khalil : Asian Player of the Year 2015 Khalil helped Al Ahli to the final of the AFC Champions League that year. He scored four in the last edition of the Asian Cup and broke his ten-month goalless run in national colours in the last game.

Khalid Eisa : Saw his club side Al Ain through to the final of the 2018 Club World Cup, only to lose to Real Madrid. His continued his inspiring form in between the sticks against Bahrain as well.
 

FULL SQUAD


 

Position

UAE squad for Asian Cup 2019
Goalkeepers Khalid Eisa (Al Ain), Ali Khaseif (Al Jazira), Mohamed Al Shamsi (Al Wahda)
Defenders Mohamed Ahmed (Al Ain), Ismail Ahmed (Al Ain), Khalifa Al Hammadi (Al Jazira), Fares Juma (Al Jazira), Khalifa Mubarak (Al Nasr), Al Hassan Saleh (Al-Sharjah), Walid Abbas (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai)
Midfielders Bandar Al Ahbabi (Al Ain), Amer Abdulrahman (Al Ain), Mohamed Abdulrahman (Al Ain), Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira), Majed Hassan (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai), Ismail Al Hammadi (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai), Ali Salmeen (Al Wasl), Khamis Esmail (Al Wasl), Saif Rashid (Sharjah)
Forwards Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira), Ahmed Khalil (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai), Ismail Matar (Al Wahda), Mohammad Khalvan (Al-Fujairah)

Follow Swapnaneel Parasar on  Twitter - @Swapyo

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