Italian Alberto Zaccheroni first match as in-charge of UAE ended on a disappointing note as his side suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Haiti in the international friendly at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium on Friday.
The lone goal of the match came in the first half through an own goal by Mahoud Khamis. Lady luck was clearly not in the UAE’s side as not once but thrice their attempts found the framework. Haiti custodian Johny Placide also effected some brilliant save to leave the UAE dry.
Haiti ranked 56th in the world comprised of tall and stocky players. They clearly superseded their hosts, ranked 72, in power play and kept winning the one-on-one battles.
Finally the deadlock was broken in the 20th minute through an own goal after Haiti forwards did well to work the ball up. Duckens Nazon’s shot, after ricocheting off the vertical found UAE’s Mahmoud Khamis defender in its way and the deflection settled into the goal with ease.
Thereafter, the UAE pressed hard to get the equaliser and both Ahmad Al Hashmi and star mid-fielder Omar Abdul Rahman tested the Haiti goalkeeper Placide with some long range efforts, but in vain. The visitors then held their defences tightly to go into breather with a one goal cushion.
The UAE was far more purposeful after the change of ends. Ismail Ahmad came up with a fine header off a corner but only to see it find the top corner of the framework. Another long range effort, from a free-kick by Khamis Esmail, also found the horizontal in its way.
Haiti also could have doubled the lead as Nazon and Kevin Pierre Lafrance had the UAE custodian Ali Khaseif at their mercy after playing a fine give and take. Lafrance, though had an open goal in front, delayed his shot and eventually allowed a defender to block his effort.
Then in the 59th minute, another effort, this time from Omar Abdul Rahman found the bottom of the vertical. In the 63rd minute, two back-to-back efforts from Jassim Yaqoob and Omar Abdul Rahman were brilliantly blocked by an agile Placide.
With the UAE pressing for the equaliser, there were opening for Haiti to exploit — especially on the counters. In the 70th minute, Jimmy-Shammar Sanon made a fine run from the left flank and unleased a power-packed left-footer but Ali Khaseif stuck out his foot in time to block it.
The UAE kept up the pressure till the end but Haiti remained rock solid in their defence and played out the remaining time to seal the win. The UAE play their second international friendly on Tuesday against Uzbekistan at the same venue.
By N. D. Prashant
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