Injury matters for Matar

The UAE's star striker is battling injury and form worries ahead of the Asian Cup.

    UAE striker Ismail Matar says his side must improve
    to be competitive at the Asian Cup [GALLO/GETTY]

    Ismail Matar, United Arab Emirates star striker, is in a race against time to be fit for the Asian Cup, and admits his side have problems to overcome before being ready for the tournament which starts on July 7.

    Matar, who top-scored for Bruno Metsu's side in January's victorious Gulf Cup campaign on home soil, has endured a tough domestic season with Al Wahda and is not happy with the way he is playing.

    "I am not happy with my performance in the friendly matches we played against Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain," the diminutive stirker told reporters, despite scoring goals in each match against Malaysia and Bahrain.

    "I don't feel that I am fully ready to take part in the finals but I have hope that in the remaining period of the training camp I will gain most of my physical and technical capabilities."

    The UAE have been preparing for the tournament in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore before heading to Hanoi where they will meet defending champions Japan, Asian Games gold medallists Qatar and hosts Vietnam in Group B.

    Matar, a key part of Metsu's team, scored five goals in as many matches at the Gulf Cup, including the winning strike that sealed a 1-0 win over Oman in the final.

    "I feel that the team need more work to reach the extent which will make everyone confident of achieving good results in the finals," added the 24-year-old.

    "I am not being pessimistic.

    "I'm sure that by the end of the training camp we will be a better side than at the moment."

    The UAE have an erratic Asian Cup record since their debut in 1980, as they reached the semi-finals in1992 and narrowly missed Cup glory in 1996 when losing a penalty shoot-out to Saudi Arabia in the final.

    After failing to qualify in 2000, the UAE finished bottom of their group three years ago in China.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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