Hosts UAE beat India 2-0 to go top of Asian Cup group

United Arab Emirates’ forward Ali Mabkhout al Hajjeri, left, is challenged by India’s defender Pritam Kotal during the AFC Asian Cup group A match between the UAE and India at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 January 2019

Hosts UAE beat India 2-0 to go top of Asian Cup group

  • The Emirates, who salvaged a 1-1 draw in their curtain-raiser against Bahrain after a controversial late penalty, went top of Group A on four points
  • India, who finished runners-up on their Asian Cup debut in 1964, will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time

ABU DHABI: Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout were on target for United Arab Emirates as the Asian Cup hosts beat India 2-0 on Thursday to close on a spot in the last 16.
The Emirates, who salvaged a 1-1 draw in their curtain-raiser against Bahrain after a controversial late penalty last weekend, went top of Group A on four points from two games despite a hairy start in Abu Dhabi.
India captain Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in international goals as the Blue Tigers stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening game to earn comparisons with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli for his heroics back home.
The veteran striker and Ashique Kuruniyan both forced smart saves from UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa before the home side drew first blood against the run of play.
Mubarak whipped the ball home from an acute angle four minutes before halftime for the Emirates, who were runners-up the last time the country hosted the Asian Cup in 1996.
Mabkhout sealed the points with a cool finish two minutes from the end — his 47th goal in 75 internationals — to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering complexion.
Until Mubarak’s strike — his first for his country — the 2015 semifinalists had been largely restricted to speculative pot shots that threatened little but the fleets of luxury cars in the stadium parking lot.
India pushed for the equalizer in the second half, Udanta Singh slamming a shot against the bar 10 minutes after the restart.
But India, who finished runners-up on their Asian Cup debut in 1964 when it was a four-team competition won by Israel, will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time.
Thailand, sacked Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac after their humiliating loss to India, bounced back by beating Bahrain 1-0 in Dubai earlier on Thursday.


Saudi Arabia’s footballers given heroes’ welcome on arrival in Palestine for World Cup qualifier

Updated 13 October 2019

Saudi Arabia’s footballers given heroes’ welcome on arrival in Palestine for World Cup qualifier

  • Green Falcons’ decision to play the AFC World Cup qualifier in Palestine was met with praise
  • Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas received Yasser Al-Mishal, the president of the Saudi Football Federation

RAMALLAH, Palestine: The Saudi Arabian national team arrived in Ramallah on Sunday ahead of their 2022 World Cup qualifying match against Palestine to a heroes’ welcome.

Earlier this month, the Green Falcons’ decision to play the AFC World Cup qualifier in Palestine was met with praise from those within the Palestinian authority.

Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Federation, told Arab News on Oct. 5 that the visit of the Saudi team has a historic and significant meaning for Palestinians.

And their arrival was met with fanfare from fans and authorities alike.

As the team arrived, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas received Yasser Al-Mishal, the president of the Saudi Football Federation and offered a heartfelt welcome to the official and the Saudi team.

A video dedication as a message of thanks from the Palestinian people to the Saudi players was also released on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia face Palestine in Group D of the Asian section of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup having beaten Singapore and securing a draw against Yemen after two games.

Palestine, meanwhile, scored a shock 2-0 win over Uzbekistan in their first game before going down to Singapore away from home.

The match will be played at the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram on Tuesday.