Bento licks his exit wounds as UAE now turns to focus on 2026 qualifying

January 29 – United Arab Emirates manager Paulo Bento admitted that his side were punished for mistakes in what he called ‘a bad competition’ as the country exited the Asian Cup in the round of 16 against debutants Tajikistan.

Before the encounter, the Portuguese had warned that the UAE could not afford to underestimate the high-flying but inexperienced Tajiks, but perhaps the Emirate players did not heed his words offering a lethargic display to crash out 5-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

While the Whites controlled the first half, they were overwhelmed after the break by the Tajiks, who rode the wave of their maiden voyage at these finals, and ultimately lost when Caio Canedo missed his spot kick in the shootout.

“Making too many mistakes in this kind of competition gets you punished and that is what happened today and in the previous game as well,” said a deflated Bento.

“The question is now to analyse what we did and we need to say that we didn’t have a good competition. We reach the goal of going through to the knockout stage but with too many mistakes.”

In the second half, the Tajiks picked off the United Arab Emirates on the counterattack, even if they failed to produce an end product. They cut through the Emirati defence all too easily and only their profligacy in front of the goal prevented the Tajiks from getting a second and killing the match off.

Speaking about his team’s lacklustre second half, Bento highlighted that the United Arab Emirates lost key midfielder Ramadan to an injury: “He was really important in the minutes that he was on the pitch because he allowed the team to build up in the right way, at the same time with the good organisation we showed until he got injured that we were in control.”

“In the second half, we were not able to control them at their best moments. The match was a little bit as we predicted – a difficult match against a team that has good organisation, in the attacking phase with fast players up front and good mobility, and we had some problems, especially in the second half.”

The United Arab Emirates and Bento will have to regroup with an eye to the World Cup qualifiers in March when the Whites have a doubleheader against Yemen. After two match days, they top the group that also includes Bahrain and Nepal.

Bento said that the UAE will want six points from those games to stay on course for the final round of qualifying for the 2026 global finals.

“We were going to encounter difficulties and this competition confirmed that and some new players brought opportunities,” said Bento.

“They showed good credentials and this is important for the national team and for the country in the future, but of course we know that at the same time, we need to get good results.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721231519labto1721231519ofdlr1721231519owedi1721231519sni@i1721231519tnuk.1721231519ardni1721231519mas1721231519

 


Grp AWDLFAPts
Qatar300509
Tajikistan111224
China021021
Lebanon012151
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Australia210417
Uzbekistan12415
Syria111114
India003060
Grp CWDLFAPts
Iran210627
UAE111524
Palestine111354
Hong Kong002070
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Iraq300849
Japan201846
Indonesia102363
Vietnam003480
Grp EWDLFAPts
Bahrain201536
Korea120865
Jordan111634
Malaysia012381
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Saudi Arabia210417
Thailand120205
Oman021232
Krygz Rep012151