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UAE face Uruguay test
Hisham Al Gizouli / 26 July 2012
MANCHESTER — The UAE Olympic football team concluded their preparations behind closed doors at the Parrington Sports Village training facility here on Wednesday evening before they lineup against Uruguay in the opener at the Old Trafford on Thursday.
“Everything went according to the plan and the boys are ready to delight their fans. All indications are positive and hopefully our hard work will pay off,” UAE national coach Mahdi Ali said.
The boys trained for nearly 90 minutes, fine tuning few tactical moves, including interception of overheads and long passes.
UAE players during a training session on Wednesday. — Supplied photo
If one goes by the indications from the workout, Ali might start with keeper Ali Khusaif, defenders Hamdan Al Kamali and Mohammed Ahmed, assisted by Abdul Aziz Haikal and Abdul Aziz Sanqoor.
Amer and Omer Abdul Rahman lead the charge in midfield with Khamis Ismail and Rashid Essa(Ismail Al Hammadi) on the flanks.
Ismail Matar will play deep behind the clear spearhead Ahmed Khalil as part of the coach’s balanced strategy.
“All the teams have equal chances,” he said declining to downplay any of his opponents.
But, there’s no doubt about the difficult task ahead of the team. Uruguay are not only a formidable side, but they are equally front runners for the trophy.
Although the UAE lads are making their Olympic football debut, their Uruguayan counterparts have a long history of Olympic experience which dates back to 1924. They have won two gold medals. The first was in the 1924 Summer Games, the Games of VIII Olympiad in Paris. In that year, Uruguay beat Yugoslavia 7-0, United States 3-0, France 5-1, Netherlands 2-1 and defeated Switzerland in 3-0 in the final.
After four years, in 1928, the Latin Americans defended their crown by landing the second successive precious metal trophy in Amsterdam. They have outclassed hosts Netherlands 2-0 in the opener, edged Germany and Italy 4-1 and 3-2 respectively before cruising to a narrow 2-1 victory over Argentina in the final.
Ironically, Uruguay did not take part in any of the subsequent events ever since for varying reasons. They have either withdrew for one reason or the another, or did not qualify. And the 2012 London Games will mark a most welcome return for the former champions.
But, in all cases, the UAE lads are the 2008 AFC U-19 Cup Champions who made their presence felt in the Egypt 2009 FIFA U-20 World Championship before they have received a painful last gasp 1-2 defeat in the quarterfinals.
UAE football ace Ismail Matar won the Golden Ball in the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Championship while Ahmed Khalil was named the Most Valuable Player Top Scorer in the 2008 AFC U-19 Championship and claimed the Asian Footballer of the Year for the same year.
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