UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif shows his support for boss Alberto Zaccheroni
UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni is “very brave” for taking the pragmatic decision to ditch the faltering Asian Cup hosts’ usual tactics for Tuesday’s pressure-relieving 3-0 friendly win against Laos, according to goalkeeper Ali Khaseif.
The Whites supremo’s position came under intense scrutiny after Thursday’s demoralising 2-0 reversal to undercooked Trinidad and Tobago made it five matches without victory.
A switch away from his trademark 3-4-1-2 formation to the Arabian Gulf League’s ubiquitous 4-2-3-1 resulted in a double from Al Jazira hot shot Ali Mabkhout and thunderbolt from 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman.
“There is no team in the Arabian Gulf League playing three at the back,” said Pride of Abu Dhabi skipper Khaseif, who was restored to the international XI. “We tried to accommodate the plan, but couldn’t apply it.
“We do not want to put the blame on the coach or the players, as we are all in one boat.
“Everyone saw how Zaccheroni changed the plan after the Trinidad game and everyone saw how that reflected in today’s game. It is not a shame that the trainer is changing things.
“I think it’s very brave and it is rare to find a coach who can give up his plan and change it.”
Preparations for January’s continental competition will continue with further friendlies against Honduras on October 11 and Venezuela on October 16. The UAE will again be based in Barcelona.
Zaccheroni revealed this step-up in class has been designed to gently move his squad into peak condition.
He said: “We deliberately chose weak teams because the main goal at the beginning of the camp is to build up the identity of the team and the way of the game. We chose humble opponents to apply the required players.
“Our performance [against Laos] was distinctive, the lines converged and we applied high pressure, I am satisfied. We created many opportunities and didn’t convert them, but we will work on that for coming matches.”