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UAE eye semis berth
By A Staff Reporter December 28, 2017
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Kuwait City: The UAE will take on hosts Kuwait in their final group stage match with an eye on the semi-final berth of the Gulf Cup of Nations on Thursday.

The UAE, who are level on four points with Saudi Arabia but occupy second place by the virtue of a goal difference, just need a draw against the hosts to book a semi-finals spot.

Kuwait have lost both of their opening games against Saudi Arabia and Oman, and will play to salvage some pride against the formidable UAE, who are still unbeaten in the tournament.

But the UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni is wary of Kuwait and urged his players not take the hosts lightly.

“Kuwait, despite losing both their games, are a pretty much a strong team. They can’t be considered as a weak opponent and taken lightly,” said Zaccheroni.

“What make them more dangerous is the frustration of being defeated in the opening two games in front of the home crowd.

“So they will try to finish their campaign with a victory to satisfy the home fans. That will be the best they can do as the host team.”

Though the UAE only need a draw, Zaccheroni asserted his team will play for a victory and keep the winning momentum intact.

“That’s very clear. We don’t want to depend on the result of the other game. And we will want to maintain the winning momentum as well.”

“We are playing our third game in the tournament and that’s enough time to get used to the conditions and know your strength and weaknesses.

We are in the position to get our combinations and strategies right. We expect our players to raise their levels and play better than the previous two games,” he added.

“We know we are playing against a side who have nothing to lose, but our players are experienced enough to tackle such situations.”

He also revealed of fielding two strikers to play an attacking game.

“Obviously, to win a game we must score goals. We have worked on those areas we need to improve and hopefully the goals will come. We’ll have two strikers in the line-up and Omar Abdulrahman will be given a freehand to play his natural game.

“He’s undoubtedly our best talent and I don’t want to restrict his movements on the pitch. He’s free to play his natural game and we think he can give his best without restrictions. That’s a playmaker’s role,” said the Italian.

“Omar has the skills and abilities to make all the difference in a side. He has a composed mindset to turn the game around for us at any time and in any situation, ” concluded the sixty-year-old.

The competition is contested by the eight members of the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation, namely: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen. The teams are divided into two groups of four each.

Group A consists of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman while Group B includes Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq.

Teams play one another within their group once for a total of three group stage matches per team.

The two teams that top their respective groups qualify for the semi-finals, which will be played on Jan.2.

The tournament concludes with the final on Jan.5, 2018.

more: p16

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