The Whites lost 2-1 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City stadium last October, Mohammad Al Sahlawi’s 90th-minute penalty securing a precious three points for the Green Falcons and inflicting a painful defeat on the visitors.
Mahdi Ali’s men have, however, gone on an six-game winning run since that defeat and come into tonight’s home tie at Al Jazira’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in confident mood following a 2-0 victory against Palestine at the same venue on Thursday.
And Fardan has promised that the UAE will put on a much better show against tonight’s opponents than they did five months ago.
“Maybe we weren’t in shape against Saudi Arabia, the players were not in shape or in a good situation in that game. These things happen, but now against Saudi we will be much better than the last game,” said the 25-year-old at an adidas UAE kit launch even in Dubai Mall earlier this month.
“Most players are in good shape and playing really well and I think we will be in better shape than last time, so I hope we win this game.
“Of course we are under pressure to win this game, they won’t be easy to beat, but we are confident and also trust ourselves to win.”
Despite trailing the Saudis by three points in Group A, the UAE are currently one of the highest-ranked second-placed teams, with four of the eight runners-up from Asia qualifying progressing to the next round.
Tonight’s game is the biggest for UAE football in nearly three decades.
The Whites have previously only appeared at one World Cup and Fardan believes the fate of their hopes of making the 2018 finals in Russia rest in their own hands.
“We will sacrifice a lot to be at our best level to win,” he said.
“We still have the chance to qualify. It’s still in our hands. It’s not easy but we have great players and in difficult situations we always play well so I’m confident we can get a good result.”
UAE schemer Omar Abdulrahman will be the centre of attention for more reason than one in Abu Dhabi this evening.
The 24-year-old was born in Saudi capital Riyadh to immigrant parents but moved to the UAE as a teenager, and has been targeted physically in encounters with the Green Falcons on previous occasions.
His Al Ain and international team-mate Mohanad Salem though says any special focus placed on ‘Amoori’ by the Saudis will not affect either the player or the squad.
“The targeting of Omar, this kind of thing doesn’t affect the team, they will overcome whatever problems they face,” said the 31-year-old Boss defender.
“We are only focusing on the win, this kind of thing will not affect us at all.”
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