Omar Abdulrahman in action during a match.
Mohammad Abdullah , Staff Reporter
The UAE will bid to go on the top their group with victory over Indonesia in the second round match of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 match on Thursday.
The battle for the top spot in the group is fierce as the top three teams are separated by only one point. UAE and Malaysia are tied on three points, behind leaders Thailand, who have four points from their first two matches.
UAE will lock horns with bottom-placed Indonesia at the Al Maktoum Stadium in a home fixture while fourth-placed Vietnam could leap above Malaysia with a win in little-known Hanoi.
However, UAE coach Bert van Marwijk warned his players of any complacency against Indonesia, who are still win-less.
“Two of the most important things about tomorrow’s game is that we don’t underestimate Indonesia. We have already had a few training camps the last few months. We were in Austria, Bahrain for external camps. I would prefer to stay with the team for a longer time. The idea is to develop our brand of football by staying true to ourselves,” said Van Marwijk.
“They are capable of springing a surprise on a given day against any team of the world. So we cannot take them lightly.”
The return of Ahmed Khalil, 2015 Asian Player of the Year, will be a big boost for the UAE while Omar Abdulrahman’s inclusion in the squad will be subject to his fitness. But young playmaker Khalfan Mubarak has been ruled out of the Indonesia clash due to injury.
“Omar is an exceptionally good player, you get a glimpse of that every moment you work with him. We were on training camps with him in Bahrain. “I had to be very, very careful in handling him. I contacted his club, Al Jazira, every day. I wanted him to play and more. But he played may be 60 minutes or so. “I wanted to him to be ready for the match,” informed the coach.
“Ahmed had some issues in the past that everybody knows. But I am very, very happy that he’s back in the groove and ready to launch the assault.
“He makes a very a very good impression, he works unbelievably hard. I like him as a player and also as a person so I am happy to have him in my squad,” he added.
Commenting on the fitness of the players he said: “We have to go with the players who are fit. We had a few problems with players, who sustained injuries but now everybody is getting fit and I hope that all the players who are here will be fit to play tomorrow.
“I was disappointed about our performance in the first 30 minutes in Malaysia, because I like to play firebrand football. I like to keep the possession for the most of the time but I never want a draw but press for a victory,” aid the 67-year-old.
“But the pitch in Malayisa was not conducive to play that kind of game. It was almost impossible to keep the possession and then we switched to the long-ball game.
“We played good football towards the end of the first half and we were better at the beginning of the second half. We scored a very good goal through Mabkhout,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Indonesia coach Simon McMenemy vowed to bounce back against the UAE after two straight defeats from as many games.
“It’s obviously a big, big challenge for us. I have a lot of respect for this well-known nation. It is a challenge for us to come here and play against them.”
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