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UAE looking at bigger picture in 2026 World Cup qualifier against Bahrain

Although a place in the next phase has already been secured, UAE manager Paulo Bento says his team are determined to finish Round 2 of 2026 World Cup qualification with maximum points.

The national team, who booked their spot in the third and final round with two matches to spare, conclude their Group H campaign on Tuesday night at home to Bahrain.

Last Thursday’s 4-0 victory against Nepal made it five wins from five for the UAE, meaning they are guaranteed to finish top of the standings no matter the result at the Zabeel Stadium.

However, Bento insisted on Monday that his side will not be taking their foot off the pedal against their second-placed opponents – even if he is also looking at the bigger picture.

“Every match is a good opportunity to improve our style, our idea,” Bento said. “This is the most important for tomorrow. Of course, we think a little bit about the result, but a lot in the process.

“It’s a game that, if we talk about the positions in the table, it’s not going to change anything. We are already qualified. At the end, we will be in first position. But we will have other aspects to take into consideration.

“At the same time, we want to reach 18 points, which means that in this phase of qualifying we are among the small group who can do that, like Iraq, Australia and Japan.

“To do that we need to score, which will mean that we have scored in all the games in the group. We have the opportunity to have a clean sheet in five games (out) of six, which will be important.

“And of course, it’s important to make a good game, perform in the best possible way, attack to score and at the same time to defend well, don’t concede too many chances to the opponent.”

The UAE, seeking to reach only a second World Cup in