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Olympics 2012: Good going for UAE footballers
Hisham Al Gizouli / 21 July 2012
UAE Olympic national team beat New Zealand 4-2 in the final warm up in the Austrian city of Linz, before the squad heads for Manchester to line up against Uruguay on Thursday in the opener of the football competition of the London Games.
The Whites led 2-1 at half-time. Ahmed Khalil broke the deadlock in the 20th minute and Rashid Essa doubled the scoreline five minutes later, before Smoltz reduced the deficit to 1-2 four minutes before the interval.
However, despite the wet underfoot the UAE lads played attractive attacking football with a number of early opportunities going wide.
Mahdi Ali boys set the early pace and had the better of the early exchanges until the 20th minute, when Ahmed Khalil operated inside the box to strike the first goal. Five minutes later, midfielder Amer Abdul Rahman intercepted New Zealand’s midfielder and passed a beautiful back heeled through to Rashid Essa who spared no effort to beat Kiwis keeper Michael McCabe in great style.
And although the boys in white played a nearly perfect football in midfield and upfront, the situation was not the same in the rear flank. Fortunately, Al Jazira’s experienced keeper remained cool and
focused to play the role of the libero on some occasions to foil extremely dangerous fast counterattacks. The well-built Kiwis were also superior in the aerial moves which gave them the upper hand in the corner kicks.
Towards the 41st minute, diving striker Smoltz headed home a cross from Thomas to reduce the deficit to 1-2. And with the second half not more than seven minutes old, some good work down the
left flank saw UAE defenders unable to clear their lines and the score was at level thanks to a long range shot by Marco Rojas. Less than four minutes later, Hamdan Al Kamali restored the UAE lead with a brilliant execution from the spot to make it 3-2 for UAE after New Zealand’s keeper Michael McCabe brought down Ahmed Khalil inside the box.
At this stage, Mahdi Ali interfered by pulling out Khamis Ismail, Abdul Aziz Sanqoor, Abdul Aziz Haikal and Rashid Essa and replaced them with Ismail Matar, Mohammed Fawzi, Saad Suroor and Ismail Al Hammadi respectively.
In the 72nd minute, Ismail Matar led a lovely move from the centre of the field and passed to Amer Abdul Rahman who sent a spoon-fed cross to Ahmed Khalil with the keeper only to beat and the brilliant striker did nothing wrong to increase the advantage to 4-2.
Keeper Ali Khusaif, Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammed Ahmed, Khamis Ismail (Ismail Matar-58’), Abdul Aziz Sanqoor (Saad Suroor-58’), Abdul Aziz Haikal (Mohammed Fawzi-58’), Omer Abdul Rahman (Habib Fardan-73’), Amer Abdul Rahman, Rashid Essa (Ismail Al Hammadi-62’), Ahmed Ali (Haboush Saleh-76’), Ahmed Khalil (Ali Mabkhout-73’)
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