UAE rescue a point against Bahrain thanks to controversial penalty in Asian Cup opener

1 / 2
The moment that spared the hosts' blushes as Ahmed Khalil smashes home a penalty minutes from full-time. (AFP)
2 / 2
Updated 05 January 2019
0

UAE rescue a point against Bahrain thanks to controversial penalty in Asian Cup opener

  • Hosts salvage a point after Bahrain take unexpected lead in UAE capital.
  • Hosts need to improve if they are to emulate their 2015 performance of making it to the last four.

ABU DHABI: Hosts UAE salvaged a controversial 1-1 draw in their Asian Cup curtain-raiser against Bahrain on Saturday night.
Substitute Ahmed Khalil smashed home a late penalty harshly awarded for a handball after Mohamed Alromaihi had given Bahrain a shock lead in Abu Dhabi.
The Emirates scored after just 14 seconds when the two teams met at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia but there was little danger of that in what proved to be a scruffy and forgettable first half.
UAE’s Ismail Alhammadi fired tamely at goalkeeper Sayed Alawi after six minutes before Ali Mabkhout blazed over.
Bahrain went close just before halftime when Komail Alaswad fizzed a free kick just over the bar.
The home side’s profligacy continued as Mabkhout lashed wide from point-blank range.

It was a scrappy affair at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in ABu Dhabi. (AFP) 


That wastefulness came back to haunt the UAE after 78 minutes when Alromaihi bundled home after his initial header appeared to have crossed the line.
Sami Alhusaini almost equalized five minutes from time, only for Alawi to pull off a stunning block.
But Jordanian referee Adham Makhadmeh pointed to the spot five minutes from time for what appeared to be an unintentional handball to offer the hosts a lifeline.
Khalil, appearing in his 100th international, stepped up to rifle the spot kick into the top corner and send a partisan crowd wild.
UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni steered Japan to the continental title in 2011, but his Emirates side have flat-lined in the run-up to this year’s competition, scoring just 10 goals in 18 games under the Italian.
His hopes of going deep into the tournament have not been helped by the loss of mop-top talisman Omar Abdulrahman through injury.
The Emiratis were beaten finalists the last time the country hosted the Asian Cup in 1996, losing on penalties to Saudi Arabia.
They take on India and Thailand in their next two Group A fixtures but will need to improve drastically if they have designs on emulating their run to the last four at the last tournament in Australia where they stunned holders Japan in the quarterfinals.


Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

Updated 4 min 23 sec ago
0

Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

  • The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through
  • The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US

LONDON: British boxer Amir Khan said on Tuesday that a deal has been agreed for a fight against Manny Pacquiao on 8 November in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at his gym in the British city of Bolton the former world champion said the fight would happen in Riyadh, adding that the bout had been “signed by both parties.”
Pacquiao, 40, has a scheduled fight with American Keith Thurman in Las Vegas on Saturday and, barring any potential rematch, would be available to fight Khan in the Kingdom.
“It’s on, unless he gets injured or he says he is going to retire after the fight and then the fight won’t happen, but he is interested in the fight as well,” Khan told Boxing Social.
The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through and the bout never materialized.

-----

READ MORE: Amir Khan beats Billy Dib in Jeddah on ‘fight night of the year’

-----

“It is going to be amazing, because it’s been a long time we’ve been chasing that fight. I’ve been chasing the big names like (Floyd) Mayweather and Pacquiao for a long, long time but those fights never happened.
“But now it has come to a stage where we both signed on that dotted line, so hopefully he is going to be the next (fight).
“To have him sign that dotted line is brilliant and no matter how he does against Thurman, I still think it’s a big fight.
“Hopefully he comes out of it in one piece in his next fight against Keith, which is a hard fight and not an easy one for him, and we will take it from there.”
The British boxer, 32, scored a stoppage win over Australia’s Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last Friday and soon after his win was talking up the prospect of landing Pacquiao as his next fight.

Eight-division world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao smiles as he arrives for a workout in Hollywood, California on July 10. (AFP/File Photo)

On the prospect of returning to Saudi Arabia, Khan said his experience in the Dib fight had been “amazing” and that it was hard to turn down a deal to fight in the Kingdom.
“I was little bit nervous, because I did not know what to expect — whether it would be full or not, or if people would turn up to support — but it was amazing. I think the next one is going to be even bigger.
“The experience was awesome, I was looked after by the GSA (General Sports Authority) and the Saudi government took good care of us, the gyms were amazing. I would love to go back over there.”
When asked if he ever doubted whether his dream fight against Pacquiao would happen, Khan agreed.
“I’ve waited so long but you cannot really put all your eggs in one basket, and definitely say this is going to be the next fight.

------

READ MORE: Gloves off as world champion boxer Amir Khan dreams of ‘more fights in Saudi Arabia’

------

“I hope it is him but we will have to look at back up plans. I’ve always wanted to fight him. It’s the biggest fight out there for me,” he told the BBC.
The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US while training under the mentorship of trainer Freddie Roach.
The Filipino legend has not yet officially announced any bout with Khan and on social media appears focused on Saturday’s fight.
“When I sparred him he was at his peak,” Khan said. “I got good rounds with him and did really well. I have probably sparred between 200 and 300 rounds with him. He has slowed down a bit.”
Pacquiao has 61 wins, seven defeats and two draws in a 24-year professional career, while Khan has 34 wins and five defeats.