Mahdi Ali confident squad will not be intimidated by Saudi Arabia fans

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Full faith in the Whites: Mahdi Ali.

The UAE have all the experience necessary to cope with thousands of hostile Saudi Arabia supporters tomorrow and make the Gulf Cup final at the hosts’ expense, accord­ing to coach Mahdi Ali.

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An explosive atmosphere is guar­anteed at the King Fahd Interna­tional Stadium when the regional rivals clash.

The arena is famous for the heated atmosphere it generates, club tenants Al Hilal using huge flags and banners to intimidate.

Emirati supporters are sure to be hugely outnumbered during the semi-final in Riyadh, but Ali pointed to previous high-profile fixtures as cause for confidence.

He said: “We play in the semi-fi­nals against the Green Falcons and this will be an especially difficult test as it is in their country.

“The Saudi public is the biggest in the Arabian Gulf. There may well be 70,000 in the stands [official ca­pacity 68,752], but this is nothing new for us.

"We have played in front of 85,000 Great Britain fans [at the London 2012 Olympics] and also a similar number in China when we played South Korea [at the semi-final of the 2010 Asian Games].

“The mass and the audience will be a great motivation for the play­ers and we hope that the attend­ance is at the highest level.”

The Whites began their final Group B match needing a draw to qualify, but the scenario soon changed when Oman began dis­mantling former leaders Kuwait.

“I think we played very well in the first two games, especially against Kuwait as we were very technical,” the 49-year-old said.

“But unfortunately, we could not find the winner. This game [against Iraq] was different, we needed to win regardless.

"I am very happy to have achieved qualification and now we look towards Saudi Arabia.

“Thank God for this qualifica­tion. I want to congratulate the players on their effort, and the effort that they have done has led to our qualification.

“The match was tough and full of nervous tension.

"We had to take risks and attack more once we knew the score between Oman and Kuwait.” 

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