(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Emirati team put up valiant performance in seven-goal thriller.uae’s ahmed khalil vies for the ball with an armenian player during their friendly match on tuesday. — supplied photo
armenia earned a narrow 4-3 victory over uae senior football national team in a friendly at the stade de la fontenette carouge in switzerland on tuesday night.
the clash is the first of nine warm ups for the squad ahead of the 22nd gulf cup (khaliji 22) scheduled in riyadh ksa in november and the afc asian cup finals australia 2015 early next year.
ismail ahmed (40) omer abdul rahman (51) and muhanad al enazi (85) struck for the uae as levon hayrapetyan (38) henrikh mkhitaryan (42 67) and rumyan hovsepyan scored for the european side.
ali mabkhout squandered the first scoring opportunity for the uae in the second minute from the fast start after the al jazira international made a major breakthrough but the ’keeper blocked his move into a corner. towards the 8th minute the armenian defenders cleared two attempts by omer abdul rahman and ismail al hammadi. ali mabkhout tried his luck with a long range shot but his effort went few inches past the left pole. at this stage the armenians managed to redeploy their squad and began to pose a real threat against the uae ’keeper khalid essa thanks to the helpful assistance of henrikh mkhitaryan. however the european’s hard work paid dividends and levon broke the deadlock in the 38th minute of the first half with a fast counterattack.
the uae head coach mahdi ali was forced to pull out injured libro hamdan al kamali and send in muhanad al enazi after the whites were 0-1 down to armenia. one minute later al ain’s international defender ismail ahmed headed home the omer abdul rahman&rso;s perfect croner kick to level for the uae with three minutes remaining from the end of the first period. but mkhitaryan spoiled the party with a lovely rebound to end the first half ahead.
on resumption the two sides managed to play total football to the delight of the few fans. mahdi ali sent in essa ahmed to replace abdul aziz haikal to stop the endless trouble caused on the right flank. once again the uae lads battled back and omer abdul rahman fired home the equaliser in the 51st minute thanks to a spoon-fed through from ali mabkhout.
thereafter mohammed abdul rahman and mohammed ahmed substituted ismail al hammadi and ismail ahmed. and while the whites began to set their pace mkhitaryan came again with a strong run to beat uae defenders and keeper and make it 3-2 for armenia in the 67th minute before rumyan has headed home the fourth goal.
the uae boys struggled hard to reduce the deficit and mahdi ali pulled out ahmed khalil and replaced him with salem saleh as ali salmin took the place of khamis ismail. towards the 85th minute al enazi made it 3-4 with a lovely header but all their efforts to level the result were in vain until the final whistle.
meanwhile this was the first defeat for the uae since september 2012 when they were defeated 0-1 by japan in the first test for mahdi ali after taking over the senior national team. ali led the boys in white to 20 wins in official and friendly starts plus two draws and three defeats. korea beat uae 1-0 in their china’s tour in preparation for the afc asian cup qualifiers but the match was not played on the fifa days.
salem al enazi scored for the first time for the uae against armenia and ali salmin made his international debut as substitute for khamis ismail in the second half.