HANOI (AFP) - It may be their glaring inexperience or the punishing tropical weather, but the United Arab Emirates' Asian Cup campaign was likely doomed before they even arrived.
The Gulf Cup champions, fraught with injury problems, were shown the exit when they lost 3-1 to title-holders Japan on a hot and humid night on Friday following a shock 2-0 defeat to unheralded Vietnam in Group B.
"I think we needed time to come back from the Gulf Cup we won (in January)," French coach Bruno Metsu said, emphasising that six of the champion squad had been injured since.
"For our team, it is impossible to win anything," he added.
"Imagine the Japanese team without six leading players. It's very difficult. Our country is not the same as Brazil, France or Japan."
The long-haired 53-year-old, who led Senegal to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, also pointed out that his squad had only one month to train after the domestic league ended.
"This is a team with young players. We made many mistakes," he said. "But if we did not make many mistakes, everything was possible against Japan."
Metsu was tasked to help the UAE, the 1996 semi-finalists, qualify for the quarter-finals here as a first step toward a second World Cup appearance for the country and himself.
But his squad missed midfield architect Subait Khater and left wingback Adel Abdulaziz through injury.
The UAE's strike-force of Ismaeli Matar and Faisal Khalil, both of them 24, were also fresh back from fitness problems.
"Before we received the first goal, our team played a good game. Our players in the midfield gave no chances to the Japanese team," Metsu said, adding that the UAE defence started to crumble after Japan drew first blood.
He added that it was not easy for either teams with the temperature above 30 degrees Centigrade (86 F) with 85 percent humidity.
The UAE now play for pride in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday when they clash with Gulf neigbours Qatar, who collected two points from draws against Japan and Vietnam.
The two leaders, each with four points, battle for the top Group B spot here on the same day.
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