Brisbane: Ireland`s Kevin O`Brien has warned his side their World Cup win over the West Indies will "mean nothing" if they don`t see off the United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Victory against their fellow Associate nation would leave the Irish on the brink of the quarter-finals after they started the tournament with the latest of several World Cup wins over a Test team courtesy of a four-wicket triumph against the West Indies in Nelson on February 16.
"It`s gone -- as great a result as it was," said O`Brien. "It will mean nothing if we don`t win on Wednesday."
Several members of the Ireland side play for English county teams and they will look to the likes of Middlesex`s Paul Stirling, who made 92 against the West Indies, and Sussex`s Ed Joyce, who scored 84, to carry on from where they left off in a match where Somerset left-arm spinner George Dockrell took three for 50.
Ireland and the UAE have met several times in lower-level International Cricket Council competitions in recent years and all-rounder O`Brien was impressed by the way the Middle East side nearly pulled off an upset before losing to Zimbabwe by four wickets in their opening Pool B match.
"They really pushed Zimbabwe and it was only very good batting performances from Sean Williams and Craig Ervine that got Zimbabwe over the line," O`Brien said.
"The UAE have some very good players. Khurram Khan and Swapnil Patil are two very good middle-order batsmen and their bowlers have improved a lot. They have some useful spinners as well.
"They ran us close in the World T20 qualifiers a couple of years ago when they needed two or three off the last ball but `TJ` (Trent Johnston) bowled a very good ball and denied them."
UAE captain Mohammad Tauqir, reflecting on the Zimbabwe defeat, said: "We had quite a few positives from the game. The batters batted well and the bowlers did a decent job, but it was definitely an opportunity missed."
The UAE`s display was all the more impressive given they are a part-time side made up of mainly expat players from India and Pakistan.
Wednesday`s match is another chance for both sides to show the strength of international cricket below Test level, with the ICC under fire for their plans to reduce the number of teams at the World Cup from 14 to 10 come the 2019 edition in England.
Eight places will be reserved for the world`s top eight one-day international sides.
The best way to rise up the standings is to beat higher-ranked teams yet there is no obligation between this World Cup and the next for the Test nations to play teams such as Ireland and the UAE.
"Who are they (the ICC) protecting and why are they protecting them? Forget about audience, it is about competition," UAE coach Aaqib Javed, a member of the Pakistan side that won the 1992 World Cup when the tournament was last staged in Australia and New Zealand, told the National newspaper.