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The UAE face Thailand in the Singapore Sevens Bowl semi-final today with the UAE Rugby Federation general secretary Qais Al Dhalai reminding his players that disappointments are all part of the learning curve.

Away in the Far East, the Emirati side endured two heavy losses yesterday, going down 38-0 to South Korea and 43-0 against Malaysia.

Without key players and boasting the tournament’s youngest squad, the UAE struggled to compete against two burgeoning Asian nations as they suffered another tournament without a win in the group phase.

While the players were obviously unhappy to be dealt two scoreless thrashings, Al Dhalai believes his players are winners off the pitch.

“It was one of the toughest pools,” the general secretary told Sport360°.

“We came here without maybe six of our main players that played in the West Asian tournament last week due to work commitments and injury; so we came here with the lowest average age of all the 12 teams, at 18 years old.

“We had only a few experienced players like Ali Gholom and Mohammad Abbas, the remaining nine players are all 18 years old.

“I insist on saying that it is a learning curve, we are not looking for a result at all in this point of time. We are thinking reasonably and logically, we are giving them experience and exposure of playing against these big teams. You don’t win on the field, you win off the field. And I think we win off the field with all the experience and exposure we can give our players.”

The Shaheens can still salvage some pride today when they take on Thailand in the Bowl semi-final after which they will be paired against either hosts Singapore or debutants Indonesia, depending on results.

The UAE RF has steadfastly stuck by their new plan to make the national team for nationals only and insist that progress continues to be made.

Performance manager Epeli Lagiloa has already said that the team is looking at phase two of their plan which will see an improvement in training methods.

Al Dhalai admits his players are naturally disappointed at failing to win yesterday but feels the experience is worth it.

“The players, of course like any player in the world in any sport, hate losing,” Al Dhalai said.

“The fact of losing the game is something the players don’t like. But on the other hand, they know they are learning and gaining experience so the coin has two faces, one is disappointment, the other is satisfaction – from a player’s perspective.”


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