Doha, Nov 27 - Star striker Ali Mabkhout turned on the style as UAE commenced their campaign at the 24th edition of the Arabian Gulf Cup tournament with a comfortable 3-0 win over Yemen at Abdullah Khalifa Stadium late on Tuesday. This win comes after their recent setbacks in the the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
With the win, UAE raced to the top of Group A with three points and better goal average than Iraq, who beat Qatar, in the first match. Mabkhout netted two goals in the first half scoring in the 21st and 38th minutes while the third goal came in the 54th minute. The hat-trick also put Mabkhout in strong contention for the top-scorer award, while Iraq’s Mohammed Qasim has two goals and Qatar’s Abdulaziz Hatim has one goal.
UAE, winners of Gulf Cup in 2007 and 2013, controlled the match. The Yemeni players tried to build some scoring chances but lack of technical experience saw their moves stopped by a tough UAE defence.
Dutchman Van Marwijk, head coach of UAE team, expressed satisfaction on the players performance. “We could have scored more goals but it is great to win the first match. All the players in different positions delivered top performances,” Marwijk said.
“We will prepare for the upcoming match with same spirit and enthusiasm. It is expected that the next matches will be tougher than this match. We need to work hard and prepare well for the next challenges,” the Dutchman added.
On the other hand, Yemen coach Sami al Nasah, said that his team, full of new faces, lacked experience. “Lack of experience was the reason behind our loss against the experienced UAE team. Definitely, the young players will learn a lot from this edition of the tournament, specially some of them are here for first time,” Sami added.
Hosts Qatar will play against Yemen on Friday at Khalifa International stadium while UAE will take on Iraq later at the same venue. Both matches will make the picture clear about the top two sides from the group.