UAE's World Cup hopes boosted by club success, says Fawzi

Matt Monaghan 15:21 27/03/2016
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Mohammed Fawzi in UAE training (picture courtesy of UAE Football Association)

UAE right-back Mohammed Fawzi is convinced Saudi Arabia will travel with trepidation for Tuesday’s World Cup 2018-showdown after his nation’s AFC Champions League-success against them.

Teams from the Emirates went undefeated during a trio of clashes in Asia’s premier club competition in the week before the current international break. Al Ain beat Saudi Professional League-leaders Al Ahli Jeddah, Al Nasr defeated Al Ittihad in Jeddah and Al Jazira struck a last-gasp equaliser to deny giants Al Hilal.

The countries clash again at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium this week with progression to the third round on the line for the hosts. For Fawzi, 26, he believed the already-qualified Green Falcons stars “will be afraid” after the recent scorelines

“There were nice results for us,” said the Al Ain defender.

“I think in winning them they (Saudi Arabia) will come and they will be afraid. But always when we play against Saudi Arabia, it will be a tough game.

“It is like a derby in the Gulf. Inshallah, we will give all that we have.

“We promise the fans we will win.”

After the UAE beat Palestine 2-0 on Thursday, a win by the same margin or better will see them usurp their opponents at the top of Group A and automatically proceed. Any victory will secure a berth as one of the top-four runners-up from the eight pools, while a draw or defeat will leave them requiring other results to go in their favour.

“Pressure is in every game, we are football players,” Fawzi said. “Pressure is also in training.

“I come from my club, where I didn’t play in the last few games. But (UAE) coach (Mahdi Ali) gave me the chance to play.

“Inshallah, we are looking forward always.”

More than 15,000 fans were present in Abu Dhabi for the triumph against Palestine. Fawzi vowed to repay a similar show of support.

He said: “We want to say thank you to all the fans who supported us against Palestine, Hamdullah.

“We need more fans for Tuesday. I hope we will win, Inshallah.”

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