Win or bust: Matar sets sights on UAE Gulf Cup glory
UAE striker Ismail Matar has set his sights firmly on lifting the Gulf Cup of Nations for a second time.
The Al Wahda star, who scored the winning goal in the final six years ago, played an hour of Friday’s 2-0 win over Oman as he continued his comeback from a troublesome knee injury.
A late brace from substitute Ahmed Khalil ensured the Whites qualified for the semi-finals with a 100 per cent record.
Matar is not getting carried away though as they prepare to face Kuwait on Tuesday, revealing he will not be happy until he has his hands on the trophy.
“Still we haven’t reached our goal as we are thinking now of the big prize. Oman needed to win that’s why they played better than us; but its football, who scores, wins,” Matar said.
“To win the championship you need to have more than one key, but we have all the keys.”
Matar was also full of praise for match-winner Khalil who replaced him on the hour-mark before settling the contest with two fine strikes in the last six minutes.
The Al Ahli forward has endured a difficult campaign domestically but with three goals in his last four games for his country, it seems the 2008 Asian Young Player of the Year could soon be back to his best.
“I am not just happy because we won but I’m also happy because Ahmed Khalil is back scoring, and that’s what we need,” Matar added.
Mahdi said the side’s success in the tournament so far was down to collective work ethic of his squad. Meanwhile, Omar Abdulrahman praised the UAE fans who made the trip to the Khalifa Sports City Stadium for the match.
He said: “All the motivation came from our supporters who came on government planes or on their own and we will do our best to keep them happy.”
The UAE should be well supported again on Tuesday after the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered five planes to take fans to Bahrain for the semi-final.
Etihad will operate the flights for fans who have until noon tomorrow to register for their free return. Supporters can do so by presenting their ID card or UAE passport at Al Jazira Club, Al Ain Club or at the UAE Football Association headquarters in Dubai.