The future of former AC Milan and Japan coach Zaccheroni intensified after the Whites suffered a 2-0 loss to a Trinidad and Tobago side that had only trained 24 hours before the game.
Defeat against minnows Laos was not an option if Zaccheroni wanted to still be at the helm for January’s AFC Asian Cup on home soil. The 65-year-old will have more time to prove that he is capable of delivering success in next year’s showpiece event after Tuesday’s positive result, which ended a winless run of five consecutive games.
During that poor run, Zaccheroni lined up his team in 3-4-3 formation but at Catalonia’s Estadi Palamos Costa Bravo, set up his troops in a 4-2-3-1.
He will have to thank Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout for setting up the victory after they found the back of the net in Spain. Both were dropped by Zaccheroni after leaving the team hotel in Kuwait outside of permitted hours the night before the Gulf Cup final against Oman on January 5.
Against a Laos side ranked 178th in the FIFA rankings, the the gulf in class showed why the UAE are 101 places above their opponents.
From the first whistle, the UAE were on top and enjoyed a lot of possession. Although there was no goal in the first 10 minutes, the signs were there that it was only going to be a matter of time before someone found the back of the net, especially when the UAE had four shots.
Ismail Al Hammadi should have opened the scoring when he beat the off-side trap to find himself in acres of space but shot straight at Laos’ goalkeeper before the defenders cleared the danger.
The UAE were finally rewarded when Mabkhout slotted home in the 23rd minute and the Al Jazira striker doubled the team’s tally two minutes later.
Abdulrahman made it three in the second-half with a sensational 25-yard effort but it should have been a lot more given their superiority in the game.
Regardless, the UAE got the job done but greater tests lie ahead of their Asian Cup opener against Bahrain on January 5.
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