A second-half hat-trick from history making Ali Mabkhout helped him become the UAE’s all-time record scorer and earn a patient 5-0 triumph against Indonesia, making it two wins from two second-round World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
Bert van Marwijk’s competitive home debut began in muted fashion as the Whites struggled to break down Group G-opponents ranked 101 places below them by FIFA, in 167th. It took until the 41st minute for debutant goalkeeper Wawan Hendrawan to fumble an over-hit Ali Saleh cross and Al Wahda midfielder Khalil Ibrahim, at the second attempt, gratefully lash home a first goal in three caps.
Instructions to pick up the pace were clearly issued at the interval. They were adhered to in an improved second-half performance from which prolific Al Jazira hit man Mabkhout cheekily chipped in on 51 minutes after a Zulfiandi slip, converted a penalty once Saleh’s shot was illegally blocked by vice-captain Hansamu Yama’s arm and rounded the goalkeeper from the lively aforementioned Al Wasl winger’s searching through-ball.
These strikes made it a landmark 54 goals from 81 caps, overtaking Al Shaab icon Adnan Al Talyani’s 22-year record of 52 in 161. Al Nasr warrior Tariq Ahmed – on home soil – then rounded off the scoring in injury time when he raced onto fellow substitute Ahmed Khalil’s saved shot.
Here are the player ratings from Dubai’s Al Maktoum Stadium:
Khalid Essa 6: Precious little to do for the Al Ain goalkeeper. Came out well to head clear at start of second half. Acrobatically tipped over a Stefano Lilipaly free-kick from 20 yards.
Mohammed Al Menhali 7: Denied clear first-half penalty when felled by left-back Ricky Fajrin. Adventurous throughout.
Khalifa Al Hammadi 7: Tenacious Al Jazira centre-back should be a fixture in this side for a decade. Didn’t give, admittedly limited, Indonesia a sniff.
Mohammed Al Attas 6: Measured half of the all-Jazira pairing. Passed forwards when in possession.
Walid Abbas 6: Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club veteran almost scored with a header in opening minutes. Steady presence.
Ahmed Barman 6: Kept it simple in the middle of the park. Surprise figure on corners.
Ali Salmeen 6: Ditched the protective headgear as game went on. Always open for a pass and aware of any danger.
Khalil Ibrahim 7: Another solid display by the emerging Wahda ace. Scored, at second attempt, on the goal line and then teed up Mabkhout for the second. Made way for Omar Abdulrahman.
Jassem Yaqoub 5: On home turf, the Al Nasr youngster didn’t inspire in the No10 role.
Ali Saleh 7: Flashes of brilliance from the emerging Al Wasl teenager. His talent merits bedding-in period during second round. His shot won second-half penalty and smart pass put Mabkhout clear for the fourth.
Ali Mabkhout 8: An audacious chipped finish, nonchalant spot-kick and ruthlessly dispatched one-on-one made it five goals from two qualifiers on a historic night for him.
Omar Abdulrahman 6: Recovering 2016 AFC Player of the Year received huge ovation when brought on near hour mark. Will he be ready to start in Thailand on Tuesday?
Ahmed Khalil N/A: Returning Shabab Al Ahli forward placed wide soon after coming on. His presence is a bonus after years of intermittent injury.
Tariq Ahmed N/A: Nasr enforcer helped close out proceedings in familiar surroundings. Was on hand to poke home fifth.
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UAE boss Bert van Marwijk has admitted hopes about the speed of star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman’s rehabilitation have not been met ahead of another likely substitute role in Thursday’s World Cup 2022 qualifier against Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium.
Amoory, 28, has been carefully utilised by new employers Al Jazira in the wake of October 2018’s serious knee injury with Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. But the 2016 AFC Player of the Year has retained his berth in a UAE squad aiming to improve on last month’s difficult 2-1 opening win at Malaysia in the second round’s Group G.
“He’s [Amoory] an exceptionally good player, you see that every moment you work with him,” said Van Marwijk, who also has 2015 AFC POY Ahmed Khalil back in the fold after issues of his own.
“We were on training camp with him in Bahrain [in August]. We had to be very, very careful.
“We had contact with his club every day and I think we brought him further and further. And then afterwards I hoped he would play more at his club, but he played only maybe 15, 20 minutes in one game, played once maybe 60 minutes.
“He’s getting fitter and fitter. And I’m happy – he’s maybe 90 per cent.”
Opponents Indonesia have lost both qualifiers, to neighbours Malaysia and Thailand. But boss Simon McMenemy believed the UAE’s transition away from a failed ‘Golden Generation’ provided fresh opportunity.
He said: “I show a huge amount of respect for anyone prepared to do this job.
“With that said, the UAE are going through a transition. They have a new coach coming in, with a very good CV and history.
“I am sure he is pushing the team in the right direction.
“We are the underdogs, but we have our strategy to stick to.”
Indonesia are ranked 167th to the UAE’s 66th by FIFA, plus were banned for 2018 qualifying.
This did not prevent a careful Van Marwijk from expecting an “unpredictable” opponent in Dubai.
“Indonesia is a team you can expect everything,” the 67-year-old said. “They are very emotional in the game, they have some fast players, creative players, they are unpredictable.
“So, it’s not easy. The most important thing is that we have to be ourselves and play our game.”
Bert van Marwijk will oversee his opening home World Cup 2022 qualifier on Thursday when the UAE host floundering Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium.
The Whites – playing their first competitive match in Dubai since November 2011 – are keen to build on an exciting 2-1 win in Malaysia when the second round kicked off.
Opponents Indonesia have experienced a brutal return after World Cup 2018’s ban, conceding a 97th-minute winner to bitter rivals Malaysia – amid riotous scenes at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium – and being dismissed 3-0 by Thailand. They must conjure a surprise against hosts ranked 66th by FIFA, 101 places above them.
The extent of Amoory’s horrific knee injury has been laid bare.
When the 28-year-old crown prince of UAE football was, surprisingly, returned to the country by Al Jazira this August, an ebullient present at Al Ain was expected to instantly comeback. The trauma, however, from October 2018’s torn ligaments suffered at boyhood club Al Hilal, of Saudi Arabia, has clearly left its mark.
To date, no goals or assists have been recorded from one Arab Club Champions Cup start and three top-flight cameos. This gentle reintroduction was replicated with the UAE and a calming second-half run-out in Malaysia.
Expect to witness Van Marwijk – who labelled Amoory as “90 per cent” fit pre-match – offer decent second-half minutes against lowly Indonesia. Pass this test and a return to the XI may await at Thailand, in the section’s toughest tie, on Tuesday.
ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT?
There was true bravery and genuine haste apparent in Van Marwijk’s opening competitive selection.
A quartet of Under-23 players took to the field against Malaysia, with 26-year-old Al Wahda midfielder Khalil Ibrahim also earning a first competitive cap. This evidenced a coach patently aware of the pressing need to enact generational change.
كُلنا خلف الأبيض في مباراته أمام منتخب إندونيسيا يوم الخميس الموافق 10 أكتوبر بإستاد آل مكتوم بنادي النصر الساعة 8 مساء ضمن التصفيات المشتركة المؤهلة إلى نهائيات كأس العالم 2022 ونهائيات كأس آسيا 2023 ..#منتخب_الإمارات#تصفيات_كأس_العالم #الإمارات_إندونيسيا pic.twitter.com/FAfNElkV1B— UAEFA (@uaefa_ae) October 6, 2019
This speed, however, almost backfired in a game from which the ramshackle Whites conceded within a minute.
Van Marwijk, as a World Cup 2010 finalist, will retain his convictions. But do not be surprised to see Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s Walid Abbas, 34, move inside from left-back, while Al Ain’s Bandar Al Ahbabi, 29, looks set for right wing.
IN NEED OF AN UPSET
A different kind of pressure is at play for Indonesia.
Coach Simon McMenemy anticipated a formative experience in Dubai for a team looking to “improve as a nation and improve our football” after being banned through the previous global process.
Wounds were opened in the Malaysia collapse and the Englishman’s squad has been tweaked. Will a potential benching of captain and goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa avert, or induce, a massacre?