Emirates News Agency – ‘Our tie with Thailand crucial qualification match’: Bert van Marwijk


DUBAI, 6th June, 2021 (WAM) — In probably the most closely contested group in Asian Qualifiers and after contrasting restarts to their respective qualifying campaigns, UAE and Thailand find themselves level on points going into their return fixture when they meet tomorrow in Dubai..

A 4-0 win over Malaysia on Thursday helped the Whites into a superior goal difference as Thailand were held to a 2-2 draw by Indonesia.

Tied on nine points each, group hosts the UAE face Thailand as both sides look to close the gap on Vietnam or even topple them off the top of the group should the latter lose.

At a pre-match news conference, Head Coach, Bert van Marwijk enunciated full respect for the Thai team, articulating the Whites’ full readiness to get payback after their 2-1 loss in the reserve leg in October 2019 in Bangkok.

With Vietnam just two points ahead and having played one more game, Thailand will be eager to repeat their 2-1 win. Back then it was veteran striker Teerasil Dangda, missing from the current squad through injury, who opened the scoring for the War Elephants. Ali Mabkhout equalised at the stroke of halftime but Ekanit Panya won it for Thailand six minutes into the second period.

Scorer in the first game, Mabkhout continues to impress for the UAE, his brace against Malaysia sending him top of the Asian Qualifiers scoring charts with eight, level with Japan duo Takumi Minamino and Yuya Osako, but also making him the second-highest scoring active footballer in international football with 73 goals, behind only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and ahead of Argentina’s Lionel Messi and India’s Sunil Chhetri.

WAM/Hatem Mohamed/Hassan Bashir

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