UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni refuses to press the panic button.
UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni has kept the faith and declared “things will get better” even though a 2-0 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago made it eight months since his last taste of victory.
Catalonia’s Estadio Municipal de Montilivi on Thursday witnessed the returns of 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman and 2015 Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout to the Whites line-up for the first time since January’s tumultuous Gulf Cup final loss to Oman.
But the star duo could not prevent goals in either half from Ataulla Guerra and Nathan Lewis inflicting a fifth reversal in 12 maudlin matches upon the worried 2019 Asian Cup hosts.
“We have received two cross-ball goals,” Zaccheroni told Dubai Sports. “In the coming days, we will work to correct those mistakes.
“All the players have figured out how to play. What we lacked was a pass into the front trio, but I cannot ask for more from the players.
“We are at the beginning of a season, and this is normal. Over time, things will get better.”
Kicking off in Zaccheroni’s trademark 3-4-1-2 formation, the Whites lacked fluidity and only meekly threatened through Al Wasl defensive midfielder Khamis Esmail’s hopeful shot.
The breakthrough in Spain came on 37 minutes when Charleston Battery midfielder Guerra converted from close range. This lead was doubled just before the hour mark when Indy Eleven winger Lewis ghosted in unmarked at the back post.
The UAE next meet minnows Laos – ranked 178th by FIFA, 101 places below them – on Tuesday (22:00 UAE).