after the boys in white cruised to a crucial 3-2 away victory over hosts Uzbekistan and advanced to the finals of the 2012 London Games at Jar Stadium in Tashkent on Wednesday evening.“It’s a national pride and unforgettable moment of my life,” said Bani Yas winger and the youngest superstar of the country’s football Haboush Saleh.
The Uzbek coach Vadiv Abramov was forced to make an early substitution by pulling out injured midfielder Abduqakhor Khojiakabrov and sent in Javalon Ibragimov in the 25th minute of the first half. But the Uzbeks continued to dominate the game thanks to the hard work of playmakers Oleg Zateef and Zokhir Pirimov.Towards the 34th minute, Zatef made the best of a poor save by the UAE keeper to put the home team ahead with a brilliant rebound. This was also the result before the interval.
“Mahdi Ali spoke to us during the break and the unanimous decision was to make things good in the second half since it was a do-or-die clash for us. It’s a moment of truth and we had to do something to delight our faithful fans who came with us all this long distance,” said the UAE skipper and Lyon defender Hamdan Al Kamali later.But, unfortunately, the Uzbeks doubled the scoreline in less than two minutes after the restart. Again, Fozil Musaev capitalised on another poor clearance by the UAE defender Abdul Aziz Haikal to make it 2-0 with a lovely header.
“We had the feeling that the mission became more difficult but not impossible,” Al Kamali described the situation after the second goal.“The immediate reaction was to push forward and let it be as it could be,” he added.At this stage, Ahmed Khalil gave the UAE lads a kiss of hope and a new lifeline when the brilliant forward reduced the deficit to 1-2 from a well placed free kick on the mouth of the box in the 50th minute.
“It was a typical strike to his second goal against the same Uzbek squad in the final of the 2008 AFC U-18 Championship in Dammam, Saudi Arabia which awarded us our first continental silverware,” Al Kamali recalled.“The early goal brought us back to the game and we began to believe that we are going to do it and repeat our previous victory over our opponents,” Al Kamali said.Less than five minutes later, Ahmed Ali led a fast move from the left flank and passed to Omer Abdul Rahman who sent a back heel kick to Ahmed Khalil to fire home the equaliser with a first time right footer.
“It was a big relief for us. We were knocking again on London doors, thanks God,” Al Kamali told Abu Dhabi TV in a post match chat.But this was not everything. Few minutes after Ali Mabkhout missed an easy scoring opportunity with the keeper only to beat, Haboush Saleh netted the winner three minutes into injury time of the tough clash with a surface to surface bullet-like right-footer.“We have landed at Heathrow Airport and hopefully we will be playing at the Emirates Stadium in June,” Al Kamali concluded with a big smile. – Khaleejnews