UAE soccer bosses confident of team’s progress in 2022 World Cup qualifiers - GulfToday

UAE soccer bosses confident of team’s progress in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

UAE Soccer

UAE players attend a training session in Salzburg, Austria, on Tuesday.

 The UAE Football Association (UAEFA) officials are confident of team’s success in the second round of qualifying for the 2022 Qatar World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

The round two draw of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 concluded in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

The draw, conducted by FIFA Director of Competitions Christian Unger and Australian legend Tim Cahill, saw Asia’s top ranked team Iran pooled in Group C alongside Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia.

Group G had a distinct Southeast Asian flavour as ASEAN rivals Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were all drawn together, with the UAE completing the cast.

“We have one of the best coach with a set of players who are a blend between experience and youth. We are confident the coach [Bert van Marwijk] will be able to bring out the best from this team,” said Marwan Bin Galita, President of the UAE Football Association.

Dr Hassan Suhail, member of the teams and technical affairs committee of the UAE Football Association, described described the draw as balanced.

The UAE coach Bert van Marwijk’s, 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.

Qatar, who will host the 2022 World Cup, were drawn in Group E alongside Bangladesh, Oman, India and Afghanistan in their bid to defend the AFC Asian Cup they won in spectacular fashion in the UAE last February.

Iran will be aiming for a third consecutive appearance in the 2022 World Cup, having narrowly missed on qualifying for the knockout stage in Russia 2018.

Iran and Iraq will renew one of football’s great rivalries after being drawn in the same group.

Japan, Asia’s best performers in the 2018 World Cup where they were defeated by Belgium in the Round of 16, were drawn in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

South Korea, who have appeared in every edition of the World Cup finals since 1986, will have Lebanon, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in Group H of the Asian qualifiers.

After the draw at the Asian football body’s headquarters in, South Korea coach Paulo Bento insisted that facing the North was “nothing special”.

“For us it is a sport -- the goal is to qualify,” he said.

“The message I will share with the players when we play against North Korea is to give them the same respect we will have for any other teams we will play against.”

Sporting ties played a role in a diplomatic thaw on and around the peninsula last year, when the two Koreas formed their first-ever unified Olympic team for the 2018 Winter Games.

But those endeavours stagnated with the wider deadlock in negotiations over the North’s nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia, who defeated Egypt 2-1 to end their 2018 World Cup campaign on a high, will face Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen and Singapore in Group D.

Australia, who became the record fifth Asian team at a World Cup Finals after going through the Inter-Continental Playoff to earn a berth in Russia 2018, will go up against Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

China, the host for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, will have to navigate past Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam in Group A their bid for a second appearance in the World Cup Finals.

The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

However, should Qatar win their group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The same applies should Qatar finish as one of the four best second-placed teams, with the fifth best group runners-up advancing to the third round of the qualifiers.

The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.