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Bento exhorts UAE to guard against complacency

Bento exhorts UAE to guard against complacency
13 June 2024 15:38

KUMMAr SHYAM (ABU DHABI)

A 1-1 draw result for UAE against Bahrain in the final group match of the second round of the joint qualification path for the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup was a “fair result”, according to Portuguese manager Paulo Bento, as the national team finished top of Group H points table.

UAE remained unbeaten but a draw meant they did not finish with the full 18 points on offer from six matches as Bento desired. Yet, he said after the match at Al Wasl’s Zabeel Stadium on Tuesday night that there was much to do before the third round begins in September.

Bento said in the pre-match conference that he would like to see the UAE finish with victory just like top teams such as Iraq, Japan or Australia did. And he hinted again post match that there is much work to do internally for the players.

“They need to move forward. They need to understand the game in a different way. We should not have in consideration our weakness and don’t think we are better than we really are. We need to understand the context that we’re going to find in the future,” Bento said.

The manager suggested that the intensity at the higher level would also include more travel and hence jet lag among other things such as a larger 48-team World Cup as an example.

Both teams had already secured passage from the Asian qualifying with Bahrain ending up second to the UAE in Group H. Bento used the opportunity to try out more young players but his keenness to get three points was reflected in the return of the young frontman Sultan Adil, 20, and the experienced goalkeeper Khalid Eisa at the back.

Yet, UAE fell behind in the fourth minute. For the visitors, the UAE-based Ali Madan drove through the Emirati midfield before supplying a lovely through pass for Mahdi Abduljabbar who opened his body and slotted the ball past Eisa in to the bottom corner.

Six minutes later, centre-back Mohammed Al Attas sent a 55-metre pass along the ground to send Adil through on the Bahraini goal, and the young forward kept his composure to find the back of the net with a well-taken finish in the 10th minute.

Adil followed in the footsteps of his father Adil Mohammed who scored twice in a 2-1 win against the same opponents 27 years ago in the France 1998 World Cup qualifiers.

With players noticeably struggling with the hot and humid Dubai summer, fatigue set-in in the remainder of the second half, with chances few and far between. The draw for the third round will be held on June 27.

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