The UAE will be looking to make amends in the 46th King’s Cup when they take on Gabon in the third place play-off at 1.30pm [UAE time] at the Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok, on Sunday.
The two semi-finals of the King’s Cup were held on Thursday with Slovakia getting the better of the UAE 2-1 while hosts and defending champions Thailand edged out the African nation 4-2 on penalties.
Led by former Liverpool star Martin Skrtel, Slovakia struck twice within three minutes at the end of the first half with Albert Rusnak opening the account in the 42nd minute, while Michal Duris doubled the score in the 45th. The UAE’s solitary goal was netted by Ahmad Khalil in the 73rd minute.
In the second semi-final match that was held later in the evening at the same venue, Thailand edged out Gabon 4-2 on penalties. After a goalless regulation period in the second semi-final, goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan stood out as a hero while saving off Gabon’s André Biyogo Poko and Axel Méyé to hand the hosts and defending champions a memorable win.
Thamsatchanan, who plays for Oud-Heverlee Leuven in Belgium, produced two fine saves to hand the War Elephants a 4-2 shoot-out triumph after neither side could find the breakthrough in 90 minutes. It was ultimately a deserved win for a Thai outfit boasting their full array of stars, including foreign-based Thamsatchanan, Teerasil Dangda, Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerathon Bunmathan.
In their defence, Gabon had to play without star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Arsenal striker lost his grandmother earlier this week.
The final will be held at the Rajamangala National Stadium on Sunday [4.30pm UAE] right after the UAE and Gabon’s third place play-off at the same ground at 1.30pm [UAE].
The UAE, meanwhile, will be without 2016 AFC Champions League Most Valuable Player Omar Abdul Rahman and striker Ali Mabkhout, who have been dropped by head coach Alberto Zaccheroni due to earlier disciplinary problems during the Gulf Cup in Kuwait.
By Alaric Gomes
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