Alberto Zaccheroni not happy with UAE despite progressing to the second round

Alberto Zaccheroni not happy with UAE despite progressing to the second round
The UAE coach is only too aware that his side need to go up a gear to have a chance of ultimate glory. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019

Alberto Zaccheroni not happy with UAE despite progressing to the second round

Alberto Zaccheroni not happy with UAE despite progressing to the second round
  • Italian tells team they can forget about Asian Cup glory if they don't improve.
  • UAE finish top of Group A with five points after draw with Thailand.

LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni hit out at his UAE side after they made it through to the knockout stages.
A 1-1 draw against Thailand was enough to see the hosts progress to the second round — the UAE’s opener from Ali Mabkhout canceled out by Thitiphan Puangjan four minutes from time.
But the Italian coach was less than impressed with the Whites and has told them he expects much better come the round of 16.
“I was expecting a better performance. We controlled the game, scored an early goal but then we conceded a goal and we lost concentration,” Zaccheroni said.
“We didn’t take advantage of the fact that we’re playing at home in front of our own fans. I know that the fans aren’t happy with our performances — we have to do better from now on.”
That the hosts have made it through to the knockout stages is a success. They entered the tournament on the back of some patchy form and with hope that they might do well, rather than expectation. But it is also fair to say that they have underwhelmed during the three matches.
The opening day 1-1 draw against Bahrain — a late Ahmed Khalil penalty sparing their blushes. Then that was followed up with a laborious 2-0 win over India and then the 1-1 draw against a Thai side that had never made it to the second round.
But having taken stock after the first round Zaccheroni is certain that the side will improve, starting with the second round.
“In all three matches we controlled them and, all in all, we were better than the other teams,” he said.
“But I was expecting a better performance, we scored the early goal and controlled the game but after scoring we conceded the equalizer and we lost concentration and didn’t take advantage of playing at home.
“I know the fans are not happy with our performance and we aspire to do well in the coming stage, taking advantage of playing at home. Our team has solutions and we’ll use those in the coming matches.”