Football

Qatar coach Belmadi blasts side for 4-1 loss to UAE

GROUP C

UAE 4

(Khalil 37, 52, Mabkhout 56, 89)

QATAR 1

(Ibrahim 22)

Qatar coach Djamel Belmadi was left fuming by his side's numerous costly errors as their Asian Cup campaign began with a dismal defeat by the United Arab Emirates in Canberra yesterday.

The Gulf Cup winners, heavily touted for success in Australia, took the lead in the 22nd minute through Khalfan Ibrahim but had only themselves to blame as they slumped to a 4-1 loss to fall to the bottom of Group C.

"There were no positives to take from this game. They were better than us, showed more quality and more creativity," said an angry Belmadi.

"If we analyse goal by goal, there were a lot of individual mistakes for their equaliser and, in the second half, it was two free-kicks for them that made the difference.

"After that, it was really difficult to come back in the game against good opponents."

Qatar took the lead midway through the first half after a deft lob from former Asian Player of the Year Khalfan Ibrahim, dubbed their "Maradona".

But the Qataris were undone by a couple of blunders by goalkeeper Qasem Burhan, who was the star in their Gulf Cup triumph last November.

"(Burhan) made two mistakes, but this is football," said Belmadi.

"In previous competitions, he's been the best goalkeeper and has saved us.

"Today was not his game, not his day but, when you are not in good shape, the defenders have to help you."

With the heavy defeat, Qatar are left with a mountain to climb if they are to progress to the knockout stages.

They take on Iran, Asia's top-ranked team, in a do-or-die match in Sydney on Thursday. Anything less than a win might mean an early flight home.

The Iranians opened their Asian Cup campaign with a 2-0 success over Bahrain in Melbourne yesterday.

UAE coach Mahdi Ali said that their win over Qatar is the result of his years of hard work.

"I have been with this group for a long time, maybe around nine years," Ali said. "More than 16 of them have worked with me since 2004 when I was an assistant coach and then since 2008 as the head coach.

"We've grown together. We help each other a lot. We know each other, and we understand each other and this is what I need to do for my job."

Meanwhile, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz praised his side for beating "difficult" Bahrain in the other Group C tie.

Ehsan Hajsafi struck a blistering volley from outside the area in first-half stoppage time to give his team the lead.

Midfielder Masoud Shojaei netted a far less elegant shot in the 71st minute which nonetheless delighted the 17,000-strong crowd, consisting mainly of vocal Iranian supporters.

"The game was difficult, as we expected," said Queiroz. "Bahrain started the game better than us in the first 10 minutes, until we settled down.

"After the first 10 minutes, we controlled the game and we created the best opportunities... We scored and deserved to win." - Wire Services.


OTHER GROUP C RESULT

  • Iran 2 Bahrain 0