UAE player challenges Bahraini defender for the ball - Photo Courtesy of AFC.Com
CAIRO – 6 January 2019: The 2019 Asian Cup host, UAE, opened their participation at the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain on Saturday night at Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
UAE fans packed the stadium and watched the amazing opening ceremony before the kick off of the opening game.
UAE National team manager, Alberto Zaccheroni, picked Ali Mabkhout, Khalfan Mubarak and Ismail Al Ahmadi to lead the team attacking line and kept the veterans, Ismail Matar and Ahmed Khalil on bench to use them during the game.
The hosts were the better side at the first half and created many chances to score but the Bahraini defense stopped all their attacks and the first half ended 0-0.
At the second half, the same scenario continued with waves of attacks from UAE players who failed to put the ball at the back of the net.
Bahrain shocked the Emirati fans when Mohamed al-Romaihi opened the score 12 minutes before the final whistle.
Zaccheroni decided to give the chance to Ahmed Khalil who replaced Khamis Ismail 10 minutes before the final whistle.
The night was saved for the hosts when the referee whistled a penalty for them and Khalil converted it to make the score 1-1 and end the opening game of the tournament with a draw.
The draw put the UAE in Group A alongside India, Thailand and Bahrain.
UAE hosts the tournament between Jan.5 until the end of the month.