Alberto Zaccheroni takes the blame for UAE defeat to Qatar in Asian Cup semifinal


LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni took the blame for the UAE’s 4-0 defeat to Qatar in the Asian Cup semifinal and admitted his stint in the hot seat may be over.
Goals from from Boualem Khoukhi, Almoez Ali, Hasan Al-Haydos and Hamid Ismaeil sealed the hosts’ fate leaving a disconsolate UAE coach to lament a performance that just was not good enough on the day.
“I would like to apologise to UAE fans for the result. We wanted to make UAE people happy … we admit the Qatari team were better on the pitch,” Zaccheroni said.
“We could not perform as we wanted. I am the coach, I am the first one to be held responsible. I admit the tactics I used during this game at the beginning did not pay off. I tried to change but it was too late.”
Throughout the tournament the hosts had regularly failed to hit top gear and underwhelmed in draws against Bahrain and Thailand in the Group stage, before victories over Kyrgyzstan and Australia saw them into the last four.
There it was hoped that home advantage and an improved performance would pay off, but ultimately it was not to be as Qatar sent the UAE crashing out.
Having been given a contract until the end of the tournament the Italian coach sounded like a man who did not expect to stay on in the job.
“Concerning my future, I took charge of the UAE team 15 months ago. I worked with dedication and did my best … I signed the contract until the end of the Asian Cup,” Zaccheroni said.
“To reach the semifinal was not the ­expectation because I wanted to win the Asian Cup. For me, it’s not a satisfactory result.
“I took charge of the team 15 months ago. We didn’t succeed in achieving our goals, but I’m very proud to have worked with the UAE team.
“Our objective from the beginning was to win the Asian Cup but we fell short. There was a lot of pressure on the players in this game, but I think they handled it well.”
Khoukhi gave Qatar the lead in the 22nd minute, and Ali doubled the advantage 15 minutes later. Ali’s goal was his eighth of the tournament, equaling the record set by Iran forward Ali Daei in 1996 when the Asian Cup was also hosted by the UAE. The 22-year-old Ali will have a chance to break the record against Japan on Friday.
Qatar added two more goals late in the match, the first from Al-Haydos in the 80th minute and the last from Ismaeil seconds after coming off the bench with time winding down.
The UAE played the final seconds with 10 men after Ismail Ahmed was sent off for a rough tackle.


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