UAE soccer team begin training in Austria for World Cup qualifiers - GulfToday

UAE soccer team begin training in Austria for World Cup qualifiers


UAE players attend a training session in Austria on Sunday.

Bert van Marwijk’s UAE took their first step towards the Asian Qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 as they began preparations in Austria on Sunday.

Dutchman van Marwijk, who replaced Italian Alberto Zaccheroni last March, gathered his team in Munich, Germany before travelling to Salzburg where the team will spend a week before returning to Dubai on July 22.

UAE, who are among the 34 teams to have received a bye into the second round of the Asian Qualifiers, will begin their campaign on Sept.5 with their second match five days later.

The 24-man squad sees the inclusion of shot stopper Adel Al Hosani, who won the Golden Glove Award at the season-ending 2018-19 UAE Pro League awards. Al Jazira’s Khalfan Mubarak, who was named the Best Emirati Player, has also been included.

Absent from the nine-day get-together are 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman, who is still nursing an injury, as well as 2015 AFC Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout and Al Jazira teammate Zayed Al Ameri.

“Omar Abdulrahman is absent from this team camp. Ali Mabkhout is missing because of special circumstances and Zayed Al Ameri did not join the internal gathering in Dubai,” a UAE Football Association statement read.

“The list is free of Al Wahda players, who are preparing for the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.”

Under Zaccheroni, UAE reached the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on home soil.

The Emiratis bowed out to eventual winners Qatar 4-0 at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Following the camp in July, the squad will reconvene again from August 24 to September 10 ahead of the two qualifiers.

The draw for the second round will be made on Wednesday at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Al Wahda head coach Maurice Steijn has declared that he is happy with what he has seen from his side during their training camp in the Netherlands.

The 45-year-old Dutch tactician took over from compatriot Henk Ten Cate in June, and has been using the camp to familiarise himself with the players.

Al Wahda have been busy reinforcing their squad with left-back Al Husain Saleh signed on a season-long loan deal from Al Nasr.

The Abu Dhabi heavyweights have also brought in Uruguayan playmaker Nicolas Milesi, who is on loan from Al Dhafra, and 18-year-old Brazilian midfielder Eduardo Voltan da Silva, better known as ‘Dudu.’

In their most recent friendly against VVCS Club, Al Wahda came back from a goal down to salvage a 3-3 draw, and despite the result, Steijn admits there is still room for improvement in the coming weeks.

“I play every match looking for the win, this what I say to my team, they have to work hard, they have to fight with everything they have,” exclaimed Steijn.

“We are training on the physical, technical and tactics sides, and we are now almost two weeks in the camp, and I am very happy with the team. We are working hard, training hard, and we played two very good games so far against good opponents, we got good results, and that gives the team confidence.

“We played a good game against VVCS, I am happy we scored three goals, but I am not happy with the goals we conceded.

“We still have three weeks and a half to work on it, we are looking at all the games, and we sit with the players to ask them to keep developing and that every day they should look to be better.”

Al Wahda finished third in the UAE Pro League last season, but before the 2019-2020 season kicks off on August 22, Steijn’s charges will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Aug.5, before hosting the return leg the following week.

The winners of the Al Wahda versus Al Nassr tie will face either Al Duhail or Al Sadd, who clash in an all-Qatari Round of 16 tie, in the quarter-finals.

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