Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

Mabkhout and Zaccherroni celebrate after the 2-0 win over India. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Alberto Zaccheroni hopes UAE can kick on from win over India

  • Italian coach confident victory over India is just the start.
  • UAE face Thailand in crunch clash on Monday.

LONDON: Alberto Zaccheroni said the UAE’s 2-0 win over India on Thursday could be a springboard to a successful tournament.
The hosts needed a late goal to rescue a point in their opening match against Bahrain last Saturday — the only thing more underwhelming than the result being the performance.
That came on the back of a patchy run of form and questions about the ability of the Whites to to mount a title challenge on home soil.
But having beaten India — thanks to goals either side of half-time from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout — the side’s Italian coach praised his players for the improved showing.
“I think our first game and performance against Bahrain was a rather deceiving one,” he said.
“We were very disappointed not to get the win in that match, but against India we started very well from the beginning, and our performance was gradually evolving and getting better throughout the match.
“We faced some difficulties at times against a very good and fast India side.
“I congratulate my players for their efforts, they truly deserved the victory.”
The UAE’s progress is still far from assured, with just one point separating them from India in second and third-placed Thailand who they will meet in their final group match on Monday.
Zaccheroni is only too aware of what is at stake and will now study the Southeast Asians closely in order tmake sure his side can make the second round.
“We admit that our defense has not been entirely effective, but the general performance was good and winning with a great spirit was very important,” he said.
“Following their loss to India, the Thailand team changed their coach. However, they then went on to change their style and tactics when they beat Bahrain. I now need to study Thailand closely in order to prepare my team for what will be a difficult match.”


‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

Updated 17 July 2019
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‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

  • The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday
  • British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951

PORTRUSH, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that he is not feeling extra pressure this week as the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and is hoping home fans can help him end a five-year major drought.
The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday, despite not having claimed a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship.
He said in the past he struggled being the focus of attention at Irish Opens, although he did win that tournament in 2016.
“I think it’s probably easier this week because it’s such a big tournament,” said McIlroy, who opens his title tilt at Royal Portrush at 0909 GMT on Thursday alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
“I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here. But at the same time, I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.
“I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
McIlroy fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links at the age of just 16 in 2005, and is one of three Northern Irish major champions in the field along with Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
He said his first memories of Portrush came as a child when watching his father play.
“I remember chipping around the chipping green, being seven or eight years of age, my dad out playing on the Dunluce,” added McIlroy, who played a practice round on Tuesday.
“Portrush ... At least the golf club, has been a big part of my upbringing. It’s sort of surreal that it’s here.
“Even driving in yesterday, when you’re coming in on the road and you look to the right and you’ve got the second tee... I don’t know who was teeing off, maybe (American player) Tony Finau and someone else, (it was) sort of strange to see them here.
“But it’s really cool.”
Since McIlroy’s record the course has been renovated, with the seventh and eighth new holes.
But the 30-year-old said he did not have to spend too much time preparing on the course, such is his familiarity with it.
“I had dinner booked with a parent on Saturday night at 8:00, thinking I’m going to have to spend some time around the greens and just prepare.
“And I got on the road back home and rang them and said, ‘Can we move dinner up?’ Because I finished early. There’s no difference. It’s the same golf course.”
McIlroy has been in strong form this year, winning twice, including the Players’ Championship, and posting 11 top-10 finishes.
He also finished in a tie for second at the Open at Carnoustie last year.
“I think it’s probably the most consistent period of golf I’ve ever played,” the 2014 champion said.