ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: UAE secured the unenviable record of being the third host nation in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to go through the group stage without winning a game after they lost 2-0 to Slovakia.
Canada in 1987 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2001 were the other two hosts to have lost all three first round matches.
Both teams came out with the intent of securing a spot in the second round through the third place option. However they lacked the final execution in the few chances created in the early part of the game.
Slovakia lifted their game by keeping the UAE in their half of the pitch for nine minutes, pressure which soon paid off.
In the 36th minute, a Slovak free kick was floated into the box and Tomas Vestenicky connected with a header that had UAE goalkeeper rooted to the spot for the first goal of the match and his third in three matches.
The goal brought the game into life as Slovakia continued to pile on pressure. However they shot themselves in the foot after Jakub Gric hacked down Alshamsi Sultan in added minute of the first half for his second bookable offence and was sent off.
The second half started at a pedestrian pace as UAE failed to make their extra man advantage count.
Slovakia soon pounced on the sloppiness of the UAE and in the 68th minute, Vestenicky sent a behind the back pass to Filip Lesniak who returned the pass but Vestenicky’s shot hit a defender.
The resultant corner produced the second goal for the 10 men of Slovakia. Vestenicky again ran to the near post and flicked a header past the goalkeeper while the UAE defenders were ball-watching to claim his second of the match and fourth of the tournament.