January 10 – Alberto Zaccheroni said that the UAE were now growing in the right direction after their 2-0 win against India, but admitted that the Indians will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
For much of the game the host nation were on the back foot against the eleven of Stephen Constantine, but they won against the run of play thanks to their clinical finishing. Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout scored either side of the half.
“First of all, the first game, the game against Bahrain – we were disappointed, we could not satisfy our fans and we could not offer them victory, but today we started very well from the beginning,” said Zaccheroni. “The performance was evolving gradually. We faced some difficulties throughout the game, especially the speed of the Indian players. They will have a say at the next tournament.”
“They are a very good team, they are fast. They use the counter-attack. We faced some attacks from them. Thankfully, the performance was very different. We had more possession and the UAE managed to get close to the goal and we were more focused in defense. The attack was very efficient and we managed to score the second goal at the end. We were more precise at the back and we began the win the duals in the midfield.”
With the victory, the hosts move top of Group A on four points and they will face Thailand, whose 1-0 victory over Bahrain threw the group wide open, in their final group game on Monday in Al Ain.
“What matters to me is the development of the team from one game to the next and the players have demonstrated today,” said Zaccheroni. “No one is ready to win. You need to grow from game to game.”
In 2011 Zaccheroni won the Asian Cup with Japan, and, while his current UAE team scarcely look like tournament contenders, the Italian coach conceded that the level of Asian football has improved substantially. The UAE battled for a draw against Bahrain and struggled against India, emerging as clinical but fortunate winners.
“Times are different,” said Zaccheroni. “The Asian Cup eight years ago was completely different from the Asian Cup today. The teams are different, there are very strong teams in the Asian Cup. I said yesterday eight years ago the FIFA table had 9 [Asian teams] in the [top] 100, but now it is 17 or 18 out of hundred. The level is very advanced level and I started to lead the UAE one year and one month ago and didn’t participate in other official games than the Gulf Cup. Football in Asia has grown and this competition will be much more difficult than 8 years ago.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600979887labto1600979887ofdlr1600979887owedi1600979887sni@o1600979887fni1600979887