The President of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) has tipped the country’s squad to rise to the challenge and gain a positive result in their opening match of the 2012 London Olympics against Uruguay on Thursday.
The UAE open their first ever Olympics football campaign in Group A against Uruguay at Old Trafford, Manchester, at 5pm BST (8pm UAE) on Thursday, after which they will also take on hosts Great Britain at Wembley on July 29 and Senegal in Coventry on August 1.
“We have a team that has the spirit of challenging any opponent. We have been witness to this challenging spirit on many times in the past, most recently when the UAE came back from two goals down to win 3-2 against Uzbekistan in Tashkent [in their Olympics qualification decider]. I am confident the boys can do it again,” UAE FA President Yousuf Al Sarkal told Gulf News.
“I don’t mean that we should underestimate any of our opponents, but the goal will be to go all out for a positive result. And to me even a draw against Uruguay will be a positive result.”
The UAE continued their preparations for the event with a training session at the Manchester Grammar School premises on Tuesday. Coach Mahdi Ali is scheduled to address media along with Uruguay counterpart Oscar Tabarez at the Horsley Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, a day before they take on the two-time gold medallists.
“Our team has had good preparation and the good thing is that we have no injuries in the side. One of our biggest assets is that the atmosphere during the build-up has been great and we’ve got the same coach with the team since they were 16 or 17 years old,” Al Sarkal said.
“In addition, they have a fantastic record to back them. We are in a good position and we cannot complain. We have to play the game now.”
Al Serkal, who also attended the Fifa executive committee meeting here on Monday, shifted his base to Manchester on Tuesday to be with the team. “The first match is always the most important and it is the most tricky as well,” he said.
“We cannot underestimate any opposition. This match is important because it is our first one on the world stage. It is our introduction before the football world and we need to give a strong opinion of the UAE.
“We need a good result. And even if we draw then we have accomplished 50 per cent of our goal of qualifying to the next stage.”