Alberto Zaccheroni backing UAE to beat Qatar in semifinal showdown

Ali Mabkhout will be a key man for the hosts as they face Qatar in the Asian Cup last-four clash. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2019
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Alberto Zaccheroni backing UAE to beat Qatar in semifinal showdown

  • UAE coach sure side can rise to the occasion to make home final.
  • Hosts face a Qatar side yet to concede in tournament.

LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni has promised the UAE will turn up with their A-game when they face Qatar in their semifinal showdown on Tuesday.
The hosts made the last-four thanks to a shock 1-0 win over defending champions Australian in Al-Ain on Friday — Ali Mabkhout capitalizing on a Milos Degenek mistake to send the Whites to the semis for the second successive Asian Cup. Before that, however, they had come in for some criticism having labored to victories over Kyrgyzstan and India and looked far from possible champions in draws against Bahrain and Thailand.
That is something the Italian coach is all too aware of, but keen to stress the positives Zaccheroni cut a confident figure ahead of the crunch clash against their Gulf rivals and has backed his boys to fire the UAE into the final.
"The players who are fit are highly motivated and all aware of the importance of this game," he said.
"We have faced our difficulties in this tournament in the group stage and in the last 16.
"But we are growing into the tournament and our performance against Australia has boosted our confidence.”
Even without the injured Omar Abdulrahman the UAE have underperformed so far. But there is the sense that the side that can still boast of having the likes of Mabkhout have a big performance in them and Zaccheroni, and the horde of passionate home fans, will have their fingers crossed that that that is proved tonight in Abu Dhabi.
"The UAE faced some difficulties in the first games of the groups stages and even in the round of 16, especially because we had some teams that defending well,” Zaccheroni said.
“But the UAE team is evolving.The performance in the last game was very good. I'm very much aware of the difficulties of the game against Qatar, but I’m confident we will be able to win the game with a very good performance of our players.
“Each game for us is very important and we view it like a final.
“We're aware of our responsibility as players or as medical staff or administrative staff. We are all willing to show the responsibility to defeat Qatar in the semifinal.”
One problem about tournament football is that the matches come thick and fast leading to players getting tired. Zaccheroni, though, kicked any suggestion this might affect the result of the match into touch, saying: “We are aware that what matters is the short time.
“We hope that we can recover our strength and efforts in the next game because we don’t have much time between the games.
“This applies to both us and Qatar. We all suffer from the short time for the players to recover. But this does not hinder the UAE from doing very well in the game.”
Qatar reached this evening’s showdown thanks to a shock 1-0 quarterfinal win over favorites South Korea. They have done well to get this far and the UAE side are very aware of the threat they pose.
“Qatar haven't conceded a goal yet in this tournament," Zaccheroni.
"They've been together for many years. That stability is a source of great strength for them."


From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019
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From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.