Edguardo Bauza has told his UAE team to forget the permutations and just focus on the win ahead of their crucial last World Cup qualifier away to Iraq in Jordan on Tuesday. The match will start at 6pm (UAE time).
The Whites are fourth in their group, three points off the qualifying spots with one game remaining, but not only must they win their last game and hope teams above them lose, they must also make up a considerable margin in goal difference.
They need a nine-goal swing to overtake Saudi Arabia for second spot and qualify automatically for only their second World Cup since 1990, or a seven-goal swing to overtake Australia for third to enter the play-offs.
Put simply, the least they could possibly hope for is a 4-0 win over Iraq while Australia lose 3-0 to Thailand, or otherwise.
What is not helping the UAE is the fact that Saudi are playing at home to already-qualified group leaders Japan on Tuesday, while Australia are also at home to already-eliminated Thailand.
“Calculations are difficult because they depend on the results of others,” said Bauza. “But we forget that during the game because our only focus is to win.
“Victory will help us build a strong team for the future as we prepare to host, and give a good account of ourselves in, the 2019 Asian Cup.”
The former Argentina coach replaced Mahdi Ali as the UAE boss in May with three World Cup qualifiers left.
He bounced back from a 1-1 draw away to Thailand in his first competitive game in charge in June to beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 at home last week, but he could do with the wins to keep on coming in order to show his new employers that he’s capable of leading the revival.
The UAE are without six players for this clash however, with talisman Omar Abdul Rahman, Esmail Ahmad and Ali Khaseif all injured, and Khamis Esmail, Ali Mabkhout and Mahmoud Khamis suspended.
“Despite the absences I have great confidence in the players,” he added. “I wish I could have the same line-up as I did against Saudi but those available are just as qualified to get three points.
“Omar Abdul Rahman is an important player but Esmail Mattar did well in Omar’s absence against Saudi.
“I didn’t know the level of the players very well before the Thailand game, but after that match I was able to identify their ability ahead of the Saudi game where preparation was good and morale was high.
“With their enthusiasm for the game today, we will try to overcome the strengths of Iraq while reducing our team’s vulnerabilities for a positive result.
“Iraq have a good mix of youth and experience and depend on physicality and long balls from what I’ve seen, but we will work on a good collaboration in pursuit of a win.”
Fixtures - Tuesday
Group B - AFC 2018 World Cup qualifying:
Iraq - UAE, 6.00pm
Australia - Thailand, 2.00pm
Saudi Arabia - Japan, 9.30pm
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