Ali Mabkhout reflects on his historic night for UAE, Bert van Marwijk 'satisfied' with Indonesia win

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Bert van Marwijk (EPA).

Insatiable record-breaker Ali Mabkhout has insisted a hat-trick against Indonesia to become the UAE’s all-time top scorer “will not be enough for me”, with the chase for World Cup 2022 qualification only just beginning.

Mabkhout, 29, came alive in the second half after Al Wahda midfielder Khalil Ibrahim had forced a 41st-minute opener at Dubai’s Al Maktoum Stadium in Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing of Indonesia.

A chipped finish, unflinching penalty and deft one-on-one – added to in injury time by substitute Tariq Ahmed’s rebound – ensured two wins from two second-round clashes. This also moved the 29-year-old onto a landmark 54 goals from 81 caps – beating the iconic Adnan Al Talyani’s tally of 52 in 161.

“I’m so proud, I’m so happy and I will continue to score and help my team,” said Al Jazira striker Mabkhout.

“They just told me I am the best one now, but everyone tells me a number. I don’t know exactly what the number is.

“For sure, I cannot tell you how happy or how proud I am, but the big importance is the team won. But this one makes me a better player and encourage to score more and more – it will not be enough for me.”

Mabkhout will be determined to add to a punishing qualifying tally of five goals in two matches when Thailand are faced on Tuesday at Thammasat Stadium.

Meanwhile, coach Bert van Marwijk was happy to see his balancing act come off between winning matches and giving “young players a stage to perform at this level”.

Van Marwijk, 67, kept faith with the same youthful XI that opened their Group G-commitments with an unconvincing 2-1 win at Malaysia. In Dubai this week, youthful Al Jazira centre-backs Mohammed Al Attas and Khalifa Al Hammadi kept a first clean-sheet and teenage Al Wasl winger Ali Saleh came away with two assists.

“Young players can become better players when they train,” said the World Cup 2010 finalist. “So that is always the doubt of a coach.

“On one side you want to give the young players a stage to perform at this level. On the other side, you also want to win.”

He added: “I think we have almost 50 per cent of a new team, with very young players. This is the second game in the qualification and when I now see the performance of this team, I can be satisfied.

“I think we played a good game. They showed a lot of discipline on the pitch, we didn’t have a yellow card either.

“We had full control of the game, the only thing from the first half was the last pass. We were not stable and secure enough with the through-ball.

“In the second half, it was much better. We scored four goals – I can be satisfied and very happy.”

The refreshed UAE top Group G with six points from two games. First spot guarantees entry to the third round, while the four-best runners-up from the eight pools will also advance.

There is already no hope of Indonesia going any further.

Scotsman Simon McMenemy, 41, oversaw a third loss from three qualifiers, after also being downed by neighbours Malaysia and Thailand. The former assistant coach of English non-League football side Worthing was gracious, once again, in defeat.

He said: “I think we have to tip our cap to a very good team. They are not just a good team, they are a very well conditioned team.

“Such are the difficulties that we face. Similar things have happened for three games in a row.

“It is a difficult situation. But in terms of the effort the players put into the game, every player gave everything he had in the tank – and probably a bit more.

“When you see your players give 100 per cent, you can’t complain. Mistakes do happen, especially when you are tired and fatigued from a long season.”

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UAE 5-0 Indonesia: Talking points feature an ode to record-breaker Ali Mabkhout

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Ali Mabkhout (l) (EPA).

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 talking points from Dubai’s Al Maktoum Stadium:

MABKHOUT’S MAGIC NIGHT

A special game in a truly special career.

Mabkhout, 29, looked a yard short in the early runnings. A propensity to search for the ball evidenced his frustrations at an abortive supply line from Al Nasr playmaker Jassem Yaqoub, while he would err with a lofted opportunity when the out-of-his-depth Hendrawan spooned a clearance.

Yet in typical style, when presentable chances came his way in a stretched second period they were mercilessly taken.

Tipped for greatness as a kid at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Mabkhout’s more than made good on this billing.

The striker has been top scorer at the 2014 Gulf Cup and 2015 Asian Cup. In an age dominated by big-name foreign imports into Asia’s elite domestic competitions, he’s also managed a sterling 129 strikes in 173 Arabian Gulf League run-outs.

His durability has been notable in an age when previous AFC Players of the Year Omar Abdulrahman and Ahmed Khalil – both second-half substitutes on Thursday after injuries – have proven brittle.

World Cup 1990 squad member Al Talyani will forever hold a cherished place in the affections of Emirati supporters. He has, however, been knocked off his pedestal by the eternal Mabkhout.

STICKING WITH THE PACESETTERS

Thursday witnessed a glut of goals across Asia as the heavyweights’ overbearing quality came to the fore.

Iran hammered Cambodia 14-0, Australia hit five against Nepal, Japan dismantled Mongolia 6-0, South Korea smashed Sri Lanka by eight and improving China beat Guam 7-0.

The Whites didn’t quite hit the Iranians’ towering heights on home soil, yet this second-half free-for-all would have done their confidence a world of good ahead of Tuesday’s defining trip to World Cup 2018 nemesis Thailand. It was, emphatically, a welcome contrast to the plodding 2-1 opening win in Malaysia, that began with a 33-second concession.

Saleh, 19, grew into the demands of international football and came away with two assists, while it’s now five goals in two matches for the peerless Mabkhout. Further bonuses came via second-half cameos from Khalil and Abdulrahman.

Indonesia, of course, were hospitable visitors. The first three goals came gift-wrapped, to the immense frustration of assured Scottish coach Simon McMenemy.

They also only threatened through substitute Stefano Lilipaly’s 20-yard free-kick, firmly dealt with by diving Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Essa.

Their return to World Cup qualification after 2018’s ban is effectively over after three defeats. For the UAE, positivity grows with 2010 finalist Van Marwijk at the helm.

KEEP THE FAITH

Eyebrows were raised an hour before kick-off when the team sheet showed an unchanged XI from the Malaysian malaise.

This reaction, however, does not reflect the strength of Van Marwijk’s convictions and the main reason he was hired. The Dutch master oversaw a root-and-branch review of Saudi Arabia that ended a 12-year absence from the World Cup.

A repeat of this process is well under way for the 2022 cycle.

Ibrahim and Saleh buzzed around the park, while this was a first competitive international clean sheet for the Khalifa Al Hammadi-Mohammed Al Attas centre-back axis that boasts an average age of 21.

Of the new guard, only Yaqoub appears to have been keeping Amoory’s spot warm in the XI.

Now comes the acid test at Thammasat Stadium.

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UAE 5-0 Indonesia: Player ratings as Ali Mabkhout makes history and Ali Saleh shines

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Ahmed Barman of the UAE (EPA).

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:

UAE (4-2-3-1)

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.  

SUBSTITUTES

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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