Time running out for Zaccheroni ahead of Asian Cup
With a little over a month to go for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be played at home, coach Alberto Zaccheroni seems to be running out of time in shortlisting his players for the continent's mega event.
The Italian had guided Japan to the title in 2011 and UAE will be hoping the former AC Milan coach will produce a similar result for The Whites when the premier tournament gets under way from January 5 to February 1.
But with only two wins - Andorra (0-0), Trinidad and Tobago (0-2), Laos (3-0), Honduras (1-1), Venezuela (0-2), Bolivia (0-0) and Yemen (2-0) - from seven international friendly matches, Zaccheroni must surely be feeling the pressure.
The hosts take on Bahrain in their opening fixture before running into India and later Thailand. With star player Omar Abdulrahman ruled out of the tournament after tearing a ligament in his right knee, it has only compounded the coach's woes.
"We should not be looking at the negatives," Zaccheroni said after his wards beat Yemen 2-0 in their last international friendly match at the Al Wasl's Zabeel Stadium on Tuesday.
"I will be conducting another camp from December 15 to 31 and at the same time I will be watching the AGL matches closely so the door is still open for players to make it to the national team.
"Overall, I am satisfied with the team's performance. I've asked the players to score first in every match and give it their best for the entire 90 minutes.
"However, I feel they lacked that intensity in the match against Yemen. They took things lightly and that cannot happen. We need to fight till the end."
Zaccheroni feels when a player has the ball he should have at least five or more options and not just one and two.
Placed 81 on the Fifa rankings, UAE were expected to thump Yemen, placed 131, by at least five goals, but the coach looked unperturbed.
"It is the result that matters and not the scoreline," he said.
Zaccheroni defended his decision for arranging friendly matches against South American teams.
"I didn't want to arrange friendlies against Asian teams as we will be facing them either way. I think playing against South American teams will help my boys as their style is different. They enjoy playing their football and that's what I want my boys to do."