Former captain Hamdan Al Kamali has vowed to make the most of every second at the 2016 King’s Cup as he bids to re-establish himself in the UAE squad.
Al Kamali, 27, was one of the key performers as the ‘Golden Generation’ emerged at the London 2012 Olympics and also spent time on loan at French giants Lyon in 2011/12. But he had made just one appearance for the Whites since their march to third at the 2015 Asian Cup, prior to Friday’s 3-1 loss to Jordan in Bangkok.
The centre-back was determined to stake his claim for September’s resumption of the World Cup 2018 qualifiers, continuing with Sunday’s third-place play-off against Syria (14:00 kick-off time in the UAE) for the second-string selection.
Al Kamali said: “For me, it is so important to be with this team. I must prove myself as in the last few moments I have not been with the national team.
“I’m helping the group and also helping myself. I’m doing my best.
“It is very hard for me. All the people talk and say: ‘why is Hamdan not with the team’? This is very hard for me. Now, this is good for me to be here.
“Coach Mahdi Ali wants to change something in Thailand and Inshallah, I will help the coach.”
National Team meets Syria on Sunday while Jordan will be facing Thailand for the finals. pic.twitter.com/WlvNJjtt30— uaefa (@uaefa_ae) June 3, 2016
To impress Ali, Al Kamali will need to improve on his performance against Al Nashama in which he clumsily handled to give away a penalty for the opener.
One of the main positives for the inexperienced Whites who have headed to Thailand was the display of debutant Sultan Al Shamsi. The Al Jazira winger curled home a fine leveller from 30 yards just before the break.
The 19-year-old also enjoyed a breakthrough 2015/16 for his club, scoring twice in 11 Arabian Gulf League matches. He promised to use the international tournament as motivation for future success.
“I am delighted to score during my first game for the national team,” he said. “The goal is an incentive for me to always provide my best level in the future.
“All my fellow players tried to give all they had in the game, but Jordan’s team was very strong.”
The defeat to the battle-hardened Jordanians saw the UAE miss out on a final appearance against hosts Thailand, whom they face in Group B of the third round of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Syria – who are in Group A – had battled back from a two-goal half-time deficit, Mahmoud Al Mawas and Abdul Fattah Al Agha firing them level. They then lost out in an epic penalty shootout, during which the Thais prevailed 7-6.
Coach Ayman Hakeem will be looking to further assess his options, after only taking up the post last month.
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