Yemen compete in their first Asian Cup tournament and find themselves in a tough Group D along with top seeds Iran, Iraq, and Vietnam. Slovakian coach Ján Kocian would be proud of his wards even if they manage draws against their mighty opponents.
In the 2015 Asia Cup qualification matches, Yemen suffered defeats against Qatar, Bahrain, and Malaysia to end their campaign without a victory.
Yemen kick-start their Cup against top seeds Iran. Earlier, in the qualification matches, they got past Pakistan in the first round. A poor performance in the second round with just a single victory from their eight matches pushed them into the playoffs.
They won both their matches against the Maldives to earn a shot into the final qualification round. They registered their best performance to finish in second spot behind the Philippines and qualified for the 2019 Asia Cup.
Abdulwasea Al-Matari scored five goals for Yemen during their qualification campaign.
Yemen played in only four matches last year and suffered three defeats, with a solitary win against lower-ranked Nepal. Their three defeats came against higher ranked Saudi Arabia, Emirates, and Syria.
Al Sailiyah striker Ala Al-Sasi, who plays in the Qatar Stars League, has sported the Yemen colors on 87 occasions, scoring 14 goals. He would need to play a crucial role for his country to carry them into the knock-outs.
Abdulwasea Al-Matari is a striker playing for Dibba Al-Hisn in the United Arab Emirates. With seven goals from 26 appearances, Yemen would look towards their lead striker to ferry them into the knock-outs.
Monday, 07 January 2019: Yemen (135) vs Iran (29) - Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi at 21:30 IST.
Saturday, 12 January 2019: Yemen (135) vs Iraq (88) - Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah at 19:00 IST.
Wednesday, 16 January 2019: Yemen (135) vs Vietnam (100) - Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain at 21:30 IST.
Yemen is likely to struggle against top seed Iran. The scenario is unlikely to change in their second game against Iraq. Their only chance of garnering a win is against Vietnam.
Yemen’s 2019 campaign would wind up in the group stages if they lose their final game against The Golden Dragons.
Average Age: 26 years.
International Caps: 531.
International Goals: 34.
Head Coach: Ján Kocian (Slovakia).
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Ayash (Erbil), Saoud Al-Sowadi (Al-Saqr), Salem Al-Harsh (Al-Wehda Aden).
Defenders: Mohammed Fuad Omar (captain) (Muaither), Mudir Al-Radaei (Al-Arabi), Mohammed Boqshan (Al-Khor), Abdulaziz Al-Gumaei (Al-Mesaimeer), Ammar Hamsan (Qatar SC), Ala Addin Mahdi (Al-Rustaq), Rami Al-Wasmani (Al-Ahli Sana'a).
Midfielders: Ala Al-Sasi (captain) (Al-Sailiya), Hussein Al-Ghazi (Al-Wakrah), Ahmed Al-Haifi (Al-Kharaitiyat), Wahid Al Khyat (Al-Ahli Sana'a), Ahmed Abdulrab (Al-Wehda Aden).
Strikers: Abdulwasea Al-Matari (Dibba Al-Hisn), Mohammed Ba Rowis (Al-Wehda Aden), Ahmed Alos (Al-Wehda Aden), Emad Mansoor (Bidiyah Club), Ahmed Dhabaan (Dibba Club), Ahmed Al-Sarori (Al-Markhiya), Salem Al-Omzae (Al-Tilal), Ali Hafeedh (Al-Wehda Aden).