The UAE team attend a training session at Al Ain with new coach Jorge Luis Pint.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
A new-look UAE national football team left for their first overseas training camp to be held in Serbia under new coach Jorge Luis Pinto on Wednesday.
Pinto included four new face -- two new midfielders, one goalkeeper and a defender -- in the final squad of 28 probables for the joint 2022 World Cup qualifiers and 2023 Asian Cup.
Pinto summoned Al Dhafra goalkeeper Khaled Al Sanani, Al-Wahda defender Faris Juma, Sharjah midfielder Khaled Bawazir, and Al Wahda’s centre-back Khalil Ibrahim after Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani, Shabab Al Ahli defender Mohamed Marzouk and Al Wahda midfielder Ali Salmin withdrew their names to nurse their niggling injuries for a little more time so they can return fully fit.
Mohamed Obaid Hammad, the national team supervisor, said: “The team is abiding by the approved protocols laid down by the competent authorities of the country. All the players and training staffs have undergone medical test.”
With regard to Al Ain’s striker Caio Canedo joining the squad, he informed: “Caio is currently spending the last days of his quarantine period after arriving in the UAE from a vacation.
"He is serving a mandatory quarantine period and will undergo more a fresh test before joining the squad,” he added.
The UAE had naturalised three foreign players -- Brazil’s Fabio Virginio de Lima and Caio and Argentina’s Sebastian Tagliabue to strengthen the national team last year for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup.
UAE had named Pinto in place of Serbian Jovan Ivanovic. The hexagenerian’s primary task will be to see the UAE through to the next round of the joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
UAE exuded their confidence in the experienced coach, who accepted the challenge of taking the UAE to the next round and keep their slim hopes alive.
UAE are in the fourth place in their group and need to win all their remaining four matches to advance to the next round of the joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
One thing that is positive from the UAE’s point of view is that three of their four matches are at home. They will take on Malaysia on Oct.8 before travelling to Indonesia five days later. They play their last two qualifiers against Thailand and Vietnam on Nov. 12 and 17 respectively on the home turf.
Vietnam with 11 points are leading the group followed by Malaysia in second with nine points, Thailand in third with eight and UAE in the fourth spot with six.
Earlier, Pinto replaced Ivanovic, who had to part ways with the mutual consent even without taking charge of the team for a single game.
In fact, it was Ivanovic, who was supposed to lead the UAE in the qualifiers before the coronavirus forced the games to be postponed indefinitely. The UAE were at a crucial point when the joint qualifiers were postponed in March after the virus wreaked havoc across the globe.
The UAE were supposed to take on Malaysia and Indonesia on March 26 and 31 respectively in home fixtures. While in the away matches, they were to face Thailand and Vietnam on June 4 and 9 respectively when the competition came to a standstill.
Pinto has the distinction of being the national coach of the countries like Costa Rica in 2004-05 and his native country Colombia in 2010 and before coming back to Costa Rica for his second stint in 2014.
Colombia failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in 2010 under Pinto but he had a memorable run with Costa Rica at the Brazil World Cup in 2014.
They advanced to the quarter-finals, which remain their best performance till date, before eventually losing to the Netherlands, who have most number of appearances in the showpiece event albeit never won the title. He last served Honduras as national team coach.
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