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Dez Corkhill: Who is to blame for UAE 10-0 Malaysia?

It couldn’t have been much worse. United Arab Emirates 10, Malaysia 0.

10-0. Ten-nil.

And this defeat came hot on the heels of a 6 (six) nil defeat at home to Palestine and a 6-0 mauling in Oman. Coach, Dollah Salleh, has fallen on his sword, and Ong Kim Swee is performing his National Service by stepping in for Tuesday’s match against Saudi Arabia at least.

And everyone – even those who had nothing to say before-hand – has had their say about the debacle on Abu Dhabi. So, amidst the fall out and the recriminations, where does the blame lie for such an awful defeat?

Let us start where no other analyst seems to have looked. At the actual game itself, and the goals conceded.



15’ – 0-1: Goal Mohanad Salem:

UAE corner is cleared by Amiridzuan Taj to the edge of the penalty area. It’s a decent enough clearance, but UAE midfielder Omar Abdulrahman recycles the ball quickly to Amer Abdulrahman. As Taj pushes out to put pressure on the ball, no-one else shows urgency to push the defence upwards. Three players are trotting out when the ball is played into space by Amer to where three unmarked UAE players 10 yards from goal can score past an exposed Khairul Fahmi.


Blame Game:

–          No pressure on Omar from Malaysia’s defence as they push out.
–          Defence was split in that Taj pushed out aggressively, whilst all the other defenders ambled out.

22’ 0-2: Goal Ali Mabkhout

A pass from the centre of the pitch from Amer Abdulrahman is played to a completely unmarked Ali Mabkhout. Amiridzuan Taj was in line with his two full backs but pushing forwards, whilst Zubir Azmi was covering for him. When Ali Mabkhout slipped past the Zubir, Khairul Fahmi was off his line to mop up. 9 times out of 10, Khairul would catch the ball cleanly. This time he didn’t, and gifted Makhbout’s first goal.


Blame Game:

–          Dreadful initial marking leaving Ali Makbhout completely free. Amiridzwan Taj was the nearest centre back.
–          Split back line with Afif yards ahead of the other three defenders.
–          But Khairul Fahmi takes this on the chin as he let a ball slip through his hands that he shouldn’t have.

Photo Credit: Sport360.com
Photo Credit: Sport360.com

24’ – 0-3: Goal Ahmad Khalil

Omar Abdulrahman exchanges passes in a neat build up, and has the ball under his control 25 yards from goal. Junior Eldstal and Nasir had been beaten by the interplay and both had thrown themselves into challenges and were on the floor, slowing their ability to get back and help. Once again, Taj tried to close the space, whilst Afif is in no-man’s land, and the two full backs dropped off.

The chipped pass saw Kunanlan try to make a clearance, but fail and Ahmad Khalil was left one-on-one with Khairul Fahmi. Maybe Khairul could have been stronger coming off his line, but Ahmad Khalil got there first and held off Zubir to finish.


Blame Game:

–          In trying to cope with the intricate passing, both central midfielders ended up on the ground and didn’t “stay on their feet”.
–          A split back line with Taj attacking the ball, and Afif static.
–          The two full backs dropped deep.
–          Kunanlan missed his clearance

25’ 0-4: Goal Habib Farhan

With seven Malaysia players in the UAE half, a long ball down the left saw Omar Abdulrahman’s flick lure Afif out of position. When Omar next had the ball, his sweeping first time pass left Habib Fardan in acres of space. The covering defenders were all still some yards away from the action, and Zubir Azmi found himself with two players to pick up. Habib’s lovely first touch meant that despite being closed down by Zubir, he was able to fire across Khairul Fahmi into the far corner.


Blame Game:

–          A good goal, but preventable because too many players pushed forward and the defenders were exposed on the breakaway by the lack of numbers.
–          Even allowing for the fast break, somehow UAE managed to get five players forward in the time it took Malaysia to get five defenders back. Nasir – a defensive midfielder – was not one of those players.
–          Zubir Azmi was left with a two vs one situation on the far post.

Photo Credit: Straits Times
Photo Credit: Straits Times

29’ 0-5: Goal Ahmad Khalil

From a right wing corner, Ahmad Khalil was unmarked at the front post to slam in a header. Afif Amiruddin was left standing as three UAE players and two Malaysia defenders attack the near post corner. Fine header, but no pressure on the scorer and his designated marker, Afif, was 8 METRES away from his man at the back post when Khalil powered his header at near post.


Blame Game:

–          Afif Amiruddin lost his man and didn’t even try to chase him.
–          Unchallenged header at the near post.

33’ 0-6: Goal Ali Makhbout

Omar Abdulrahman – on the right – curled a ball with the outside of his foot towards the front post, 12 yards out. Ali Mabkhout was completely unmarked as the cross came in. He was behind Afif and ahead of Kunanlan. Afif – unaware of the man behind him – didn’t react to the movement of Ali Mabkhout who finished with a blistering shot.


Blame Game:

–          Lack of marking centrally by Afif;
–          lack of communication from Zamir Selamat and S Kunanlan to their fellow defenders
–          lack of awareness by Afif and Kunanlan of Makhbout’s movement,
–          Poor reaction by Afif to the ball across the middle of the 18 yard area.

Photo Credit: Sport360.com
Photo Credit: Sport360.com

37′ 0-7: Goal Mohamed Ahmad Gharib

This was a lovely goal by UAE. Omar Abdurlahman was involved four times, and his final pass inside two players and the full back was wonderful. Defensively, there wasn’t much Malaysia could have done. Maybe Zubir might have reacted better to the run by Mohamed Ahmad, but this was a fine goal by any standards.


Blame Game:
–          Omar Abdulrahman’s brilliance

71’ – 0-8: Goal Ahmad Khalil

A long pass from Omar Abdulrahman from inside his own half was directed into the path of the running Ahmad Khalil. His first touch took it past Khairul Azhan, and his second directed it into the unguarded net. This was a nice goal, BUT Ahmad Khalil was alongside the speedy S Kunanlan when the pass was played and sprinted past both Kuna and Afif to get to the ball ahead of Khairul Azhan who’s positioning was suspect. Nice finish, but:


Blame Game:

–          No Malaysia player within 10 yards of Omar as he picked up the ball and made the pass.
–          Neither Kunanlan nor Afif tracked the run of Ahmad Khalil.
–          Khairul Azhan was in no-man’s land when Ahmad Khalil reached the ball first.

Photo Credit: MalayMailOnline.com
Photo Credit: MalayMailOnline.com

75’ 0-9 Goal: Ali Mabkhout

A mazy dribble from Omar Abdulrahman from a central area took him past Junior Eldstal and into the penalty area. With plenty of Malaysia players back, there didn’t seem much danger until it broke kindly for Ali Mabkhout. He stepped inside Razman, and had time to let off his shot under no pressure – despite six players being within 5 metres of him. Afif had backed off, and the shot arrowed into the corner.


Blame Game:

–          Omar got past Junior Eldstal, but Nasir Basharuddin wasn’t alongside his central midfielder to help him.
–          After some neat play on the edge of the box, Razman gave Mabkhout a bit too much space,
–          Whilst Afif made no effort to close down the striker.

78’ 0-10: Goal, Ahmad Khalil

Oh dear. This was the worst of the 10. Malaysia kicked off and three Malaysia passes later UAE’s Ahmad Khalil was alone for UAE in front of Khairul Azhan’s goal. He scored his fourth goal with confidence.


Blame Game:
–          Kunanlan’s pass to Afif was short.
–          Afif’s response was less than determined.


Great Goals: 1
Preventable Goals: 9
Clear Goalkeeping Errors: 1
Goalkeeper “Might have done better”: 2
No pressure on the ball from midfield: 3
Split defensive line: 3
Unmarked players: 4
Missed clearances: 1
Not tracking runners: 2
Weak challenges on creator or scorer: 3
Poor passes: 1

The conclusion of this exercise is that nine of the ten goals could and maybe should have been prevented by players who play the game on a full-time basis. That points the finger of blame for such a huge defeat squarely at those on the pitch in the UAE.

It also gives a base to pose deeper questions as to why this monstrous score line happened to a football-mad nation of nearly 30,000,000 people.

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