Alberto Zaccheroni (C), head coach of UAE's national soccer team, speaks during a press conference prior to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, Jan 4, 2019. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)
ABU DHABI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni on Friday showed full confidence that his team will win the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 opener against Bahrain on Saturday.
"We have been waiting for this competition to come along and we will undoubtedly strive to put in an outstanding performance," said Zaccheroni at the pre-match news conference here.
"I've been in this job for a little over a year and the goal was to achieve the best possible result at the Asian Cup," added Zaccheroni.
The Italian tactician, who oversaw Japan wining the Asian Cup in 2011, believes that the absence of playmaker Omar Abdulrahman and an injury doubt over defender Ismail Ahmed will not undermine their title ambitions.
"We've had a couple of injuries but that shouldn't be an obstacle. Our preparation has been spot on and we're ready to get off to the best possible start against Bahrain."
"The UAE team has prepared very well. We have trained both inside and outside the UAE, and we have received all the support that we needed in the build-up to the competition," Zaccheroni added.
According to Zaccheroni, Asian football has been improved a lot since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and especially since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Zaccheroni said: "The national teams in Asia have improved, and as a result I think here in the UAE we will see a distinct balance in the quality of the teams."
"A lot of games will be very tight and winning or losing will come down to small details," he added.
Eight venues in four cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain will host matches at the Asian Cup from January 5 to February 1. The UAE, who reached the top four at the last edition in Australia four years ago, is in Group A with Bahrain, India and Thailand.