Victory over South Korea just the start, says UAE coach Arruabarrena - GulfToday

Victory over South Korea just the start, says UAE coach Arruabarrena


South Korea's midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong (2nd L) and UAE's midfielder Majed Hassan vie for a header during the 2022 Qatar World Cup Asian Qualifiers match in Dubai on Tuesday. AFP

UAE national team head coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena said that his side’s 1-0 win against South Korea should be considered a mere starting point on a road which could ultimately lead the West Asian nation to their first FIFA World Cup since 1990.


A second half goal from Harib Abdalla steered Arruebarrena’s side to a much-needed win, securing third place in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar and a single-leg AFC playoff against Australia in June.


The winners of the AFC playoff will then meet the fifth placed side from CONMEBOL qualifying for a berth at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.


“We shouldn’t stop working hard after this victory,” said Arruabarrena, who secured his first win since replacing Bert van Marwijk last month.

“The win against South Republic must be a starting point to continue working.


Footballfans-RashidStadium Fans during the match at Rashid Stadium in Dubai. AFP

“I want to congratulate the players for the big physical and mental effort that they have put in the match along with the fans who gave us a lot of support,” he continued. “We tried our best to fix the mistakes that we made in the previous match and the players showed great desire to achieve the result which helped us finish third in the group.”


The Emiratis came into the match at Al Maktoum Stadium aware that a failure to win, coupled with an Iraqi win over Syria at the other Group A match held simultaneously at Rashid Stadium, could have brought their Qatar 2022 dream to an abrupt end, but Arruabarrena said his team remained focused entirely on their own result.


“I didn’t know the result of the other match when we were playing ours,” he said. “We had full concentration on our job which helped us achieve what we were looking for.”


South Korea secured a place in the FIFA World Cup draw weeks ago, but head coach Paulo Bento revealed his disappointment after his side saw their 15-game unbeaten run on the Road to Qatar come to an end.


“When we play with such a performance then we deserve defeat,” he declared. “Congratulations to UAE for their win and for achieving their target by reaching the AFC playoff.”


“We should analyse what happened and study well the reasons that were behind our disappointing performance in the match tonight.”


South Korea finished in second in Group A with 23 points, two behind top side Iran. The Emiratis have been in the finals of the quadrennial showpiece only once in 1990.


Iran had already made the cut directly from Group A in the final round of qualifying, leaving the UAE and Iraq in a crunch battle to clinch the third spot in order to earn the right to meet Australia, who finished third in Group B.

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