UAE can have perfect lift-off against Singapore

UAE can have perfect lift-off against Singapore

Apollo Perelini is concentrating on the ability of his own side rather than their opponents as the UAE get set to fight for promotion to the Asia Rugby Under 19 Championship.

Matt Jones

by Matt Jones
13th December 2016

 

Apollo Perelini.

Apollo Perelini.

Apollo Perelini is concentrating on the ability of his own side rather than their opponents as the UAE get set to fight for promotion to the Asia Rugby Under 19 Championship.

Perelini’s men – the first U-19 side to ever be assembled by the UAE – take on Singapore in Wednesday’s semi-final playoff in Manila hoping for a win that will take them into Saturday’s final at the Southern Plains Stadium.

 

 

If they get past the side relegated from the top-tier of U-19 Asian rugby a year ago, the UAE will face either tournament hosts the Philippines or South Korea for a chance to join the elite ARC.

That division is currently being contested by hosts Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei and reigning champions Hong Kong in Selangor.

UAE Rugby performance manager Perelini might well be encouraged by the fact Singapore dropped down 12 months ago after defeats to Sri Lanka (27-12), Chinese Taipei (21-16) and Hong Kong (61-10), although he insists he is not paying too much attention to today’s opponents.

“The competition across the board will be tough,” admitted the former dual code Samoa international.

 

“We don’t really know too much about Singapore or their potential, whether they’re strong or not. We’ve seen a bit of Korea, they will be strong. They’re up there with Hong Kong and will be our major threat.

“With the squad I’ve got though, we’ve got strength all around the pitch and I feel quietly confident that we can do the job.”

Perelini had picked five Emiratis as part of his original 25-man squad but many have been forced to stay at home due to exam commitments with their schools.

Only UAE Shaheen player Ali Sajwani has remained part of the group, with four more expatriate players drafted into the touring party.

“Due to government exams they were unable to travel, so predominantly it’s a full expat team now bar Ali,” added Perelini.

“The boys look good, they look serious and they’re really keen to get on the field and we’ll look forward to the whole experience.”

Many of the squad are still in sevens mode having spent the last few months training and then playing with their teams at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, but Perelini was encouraged by what he saw in training before jetting off to the Far East.

“The team’s prepared really well and looks good,” he said.

“We’ve had three really good sessions before we left after the Sevens, getting our structures and patterns together, bearing in mind these guys have been playing sevens for the last two or three months.

“The weather’s wet here so that’s something to get used to for a team coming from the sunshine of Dubai.”

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