UAE football mourns the passing of Lars Gansauer

Matt Jones 21/03/2016
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The UAE FA has paid tribute to the national team’s technical analyst Lars Gansauer after he died following a heart attack at a first team training session.

Gansauer, who was a long time ally of national team head coach Mahdi Ali, suffered a heart attack as the players trained at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on Saturday in preparation for their 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header with Palestine on Thursday and Saudi Arabia on March 29.

The UAE FA confirmed the news via its website and Twitter account on Sunday night and also posted a picture of Gansauer in a UAE polo shirt.

The Swiss was a former, prominent sports journalist in his homeland and still appeared regularly on Swiss television. He later became an analyst and coach and been with the UAE national team set-up for the last seven years in a variety of roles, including spending the last three years as technical analyst.

He joined the UAE FA in 2009 following a two-year stint with Swiss Super League side FC Sion in his homeland. He was with Ali and the UAE at the London 2012 Olympics and had also previously helped out at Manchester City’s academy.

A statement on the UAE FA website read: “It is with great sadness and sorrow the UAE Football Association mourns the death of first team analyst Mr Lars Gansauer, who passed away while attending a first team training session at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

“The UAE FA extends its heartfelt condolences to Lars’ family and the sports and football family in the Emirates.”

In other football news, a vote on the new UAE FA election cycle from 2016 to 2020 will be discussed by the UAE’s clubs on April 30.

In a vote held at UAE FA headquarters in Dubai on Sunday, meanwhile, 26 of the UAE’s 31 club teams agreed to keep the current election committee and add two new members to replace two who had recently resigned.

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Performance of UAE bench against Bangladesh delights Walid Abbas

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Good opportunity: Walid Abbas.

The Whites smashed the lowly Bengal Tigers 6-1 on Friday night ahead of the deciding home matches against Palestine and Saudi Arabia as the second round in the AFC process reaches its conclusion.

A much-changed side, because of AFC Champions League commitments, handed out the thrashing, with players such as perennial substitute Salem Saleh impressing with a brace. Al Ahli left-back Abbas believed this run-out for several lesser lights would prove invaluable in the competitive matches to come during the next 10 days.

He said: “I think it was an easy game. We could have won by more goals, but we lost a lot of chances.

“It was good for some players (to play), as they are not playing in the Arabian Gulf League. They can now get onto the same level as others.”

Back-up centre-back Fares Juma was the only starter from Al Jazira, Al Ain and Al Nasr because of their players’ late arrivals in camp because of Asian club action. This afforded the likes of Al Dhafra forward Ahmed Ali a chance to start alongside the typically-large Ahli contingent, while usual unused substitute Hassan Ibrahim of Al Shabab played the entire second half as a makeshift defender.

The scoring was dominated by forwards, winger Ismail Al Hammadi’s first-minute opener the exception. Ali and Saleh got doubles, while 2015 AFC Asian Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil put the Whites back ahead four minutes after the interval with a header.

Abbas was happy with the striking department’s confidence boost.

He said: “When you score, it gives you the idea in the future that you must score more. It is a good thing.

“It was an easy game for us. But we hope in the next games we can keep scoring goals.”

The UAE sit second in Group A, one place behind Saudi Arabia and one place above Palestine. Only the winners are guaranteed to progress, with the four best runners-up from the eight sections following them into the third round.

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UAE hammer lethargic Bangladesh 6-1 in Abu Dhabi

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Star man: Ahmed Khalil.

As a warm-up for the deciding second-round showdowns to come against third-placed Palestine on Thursday and Group A leaders Saudi Arabia on March 29 during the long road to the 2018 World Cup, this wasn’t perfect. Too many dead alleys were run into against poor opposition to leave the coach content.

Ali knows much better will be required in the critical home tests at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium to steer his side into the next stage and move potentially one step away from a second-ever entry into the globe’s premier sporting event.

An opening-minute lead from excellent winger Ismail Al Hammadi was soon levelled by opponents at their bottom of their AFC qualification pool. Second-half goals from forward-trio Ahmed Khalil, Ahmed Ali and Salem Saleh then secured the spoils.

A chasmic 113 places in the FIFA rankings separated the two sides at an empty Zayed Sports City, for this behind-closed-doors friendly.

In the absence of injured 29-goal striker Ali Mabkhout – who is a doubt for both qualifiers with a hamstring problem – a thrashing seemed inevitable as the hosts went instantly ahead as Al Hammadi tapped into an open goal from Al Ahli team-mate Habib Fardan’s lofted ball.

Goalkeeper Majed Nasser’s sole contribution was to prove a bad one moments later as his spill allowed visiting target man Nabib Newaj Jibon an easy tap-in.

Frustration was the over-riding emotion during the rest of the half for Ali, trademark red cap bowed as further opportunities came to nought.

A trio of half-time substitutions and reshuffle was rewarded with an upturn. The 2015 AFC Asian Player of the Year Khalil made it seven goals in his last five appearances in white with a towering header from Bani Yas maestro Amer Abdulrahman’s corner.

Ali had frustrated during a wasteful opening. But he was handed the perfect opportunity to make amends on 66 minutes, tapping into an open goal after the lively Al Hammadi’s centre.

Gloss was provided towards the death. Substitute Saleh got a close-range double from Al Hammadi’s cross and full-back Raihan Hasan’s wretched clearance, before Ali made it two for himself with a smashed penalty after a handball.

The action which could determine Ali’s legacy awaits.

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