The UAE left the best — and most thrilling — to last as they consigned Vietnam to a 3-2 loss at Zabeel Stadium to book their place in the final round of Qatar 2022 qualifiers as Group G winners.
A sensational run of four wins from four in their final COVID-19-restricted games allowed the UAE to leapfrog early leaders Vietnam, and they were well worth it. Ali Salmeen, Ali Mabkhout and Mahmoud Khamis had the ‘home’ side (all qualifiers were taking place in the UAE) sitting pretty 50 minutes in before they suffered a late scare as Nguyen Tien Linh grabbed a goal back with 10 to go and Tren Minh Vuead of Vierong made it 3-2 in injury time.
However, the UAE held on to top the group and march into the final round of qualifiers as a top seed. They finished one point ahead of Vietnam on 18 to 17, with Malaysia third on 13 points.
It is quite a turnaround after a rocky start to the Qatar 2022 campaign, but the UAE are well on their way and coach Bert van Marwijk will see a place in Qatar as a real possibility.