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UAE hopes to remain unbeaten in Youth Championship
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 14 - 11 - 2008

The United Arab Emirates is hoping for a perfect end to its AFC Youth Championship campaign when it faces Uzbekistan in the final at the Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam on Friday.
Neither of the two finalists have ever won the title and are eager to take the prize home after the final, scheduled to start at 6:45 P.M. The UAE's road to the final was steady as the Gulf nation is unbeaten here so far. It was on top in Group B with nine points, three clear of South Korea.
Uzbekistan, meanwhile, finished second in Group D with seven points after sharing points with Australia in the first round game. The UAE, which has been training as one group for more than four years, kicked off its campaign in the competition, which kicked off on Oct. 31, with a 2-1 victory over Iraq before defeating South Korea by the same margin.
In its last match in the group stage, the UAE scored a 2-0 win over Syria and set up a quarterfinal clash against host Saudi Arabia, second in Group A.
The UAE's midfielder, Thiab Awana, sealed the win over Saudi Arabia with a 63rd minute goal. Captain Ahmed Khalil opened the score for the UAE against Australia in their semi as the Gulf side sealed an easy 3-0 victory to book a final date against Uzbekistan, which edged South Korea 1-0 in their semis clash.
Earlier the Uzbeks defeated China on penalties in the quarterfinals despite playing part of the game with 10 men.
In its Group D clashes, Uzbekistan beat Jordan 1-0 in its first match while it drew 1-1 with Australia in the second match. The team sealed a quarterfinal ticket following a 1-0 victory over Thailand in their last group match. Uzbekistan has a bright record in the event, as it has reached the semifinal stage twice in recent years.
The UAE has also made it to the semifinals on a number of occasions but failed to make it to the final.
The UAE and Uzbekistan met before the championship in a friendly in Abu Dhabi where Uzebkistan won 2-1.
The UAE will most likely rely on its midfielders powered by Ahmed Khalil who has made the difference so many times.
Uzbekistan is expected to continue with its defensive style and depend on counterattacks, a strategy that has worked for it here. __


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