February 23, 2024
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AFC – DOHA, Head coach Paulo Bento highlighted intelligent play and humility as qualities his UAE side need if they are to get a result against Islamic Republic of Iran in their third match of the AFC Asian Cup™ Qatar 2023 on Tuesday.

The UAE currently sit second in the group with four points to their name, but a defeat at Education City Stadium and other results going against them could see Bento’s men exit the competition in the group stage for the first time since 2011.

After a convincing 3-1 win over Hong Kong, China in their opening fixture, the UAE were held to a 1-1 draw against Palestine in a game they finished with 10 men after defender Khalifa Al Hammadi was sent-off in the 37th minute. Bento also received a red card just before the final whistle, meaning he will be suspended for the Iran clash.

“Preparation for this match is going as normal,” said Bento.

“We are trying to recover as much as possible. The last game was difficult for us especially after minute 37 when we started playing with one player less. That was an important factor for sure.”

“We prepared our strategy for the next game against one of the strongest teams in Asia and the strongest in our group. It is a team that is composed of very good, experienced players, some of them play in high level competitions. They play together for a long time and they don’t change their way of playing too much.

“It is a team that is easy to see their strengths, but not easy for the opponent to counter them, so we need to make a very good game in many aspects. We should be clever in the way we play against Iran and compete very well and be humble to accept that in some moments we will not dominate the game, so we have to control it in a different way, and reach the best possible result in a different way.”

And while Iran were one of the first teams to book their place in the next round, head coach Amir Ghalenoei acknowledged some problems faced in their last game against Hong Kong, China, insisting his side will not take things easy against the UAE on Tuesday.

“We are happy we were able to qualify to the next round,” said Ghalenoei.

“Based on our analysis and statistics, we had more than 70% possession and completed more than 200 passes against Hong Kong. In this tournament, in only two matches were one of the teams unable to complete 100 passes, one was India vs Uzbekistan and the other one was Hong Kong against us.

“We did have some problems, our passing accuracy was not great, we gave an opportunity to the opponents and their chances came from mistakes of our players, but I want to say thanks to all my players for the effort they put in against Hong Kong.”

“Tomorrow’s game will not be easy because we want to win and qualify to the second round as leaders. UAE are in a good condition under Paulo Bento, and it will not be an easy match, Also Palestine still have a chance to qualify and because of the spirit of fair play, we want to play at our best too.

“Every player in the team knows they should have their best individual performance in order for us to be successful.”