Picture used for illustrative purpose.
Mohammad Abdullah, Sports Reporter
A resilient UAE football team will take on Bahrain in an international friendly as a part of their preparation for the joint Asian qualifiers of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup at the Zabeel Stadium on Monday.
In their last friendly on Thursday, UAE rallied to beat Tajikstan 3-2.
Ali Ahmed Al Mabkhout scored a brace and Ali Saleh added one in the dying moments to seal the victory for their team.
The match against Bahrain will once again give Jorge Luis Pinto chance to get his combination right and pick the players ahead of the final preparatory camp for the qualifiers. Sooner the players gel in the squad, better it would be for the coach to explain them their roles.
Pinto is yet to mentor the team in any official match since his appointment in June. UAE had handed the rein of the team in the experienced hands of Pinto ahead of their qualifiers.
But Pinto’s wait to take the team to field in any official match was extended after the qualifiers, which were supposed to be held in September-October, were postponed due to coronavirus.
Since then Pinto has supervised many conditioning camps both overseas and in the country and led the team in a few friendly matches. The UAE players are going through a grueling training at a conditioning camp in preparation for their World Cup qualifiers.
National team player Ali Salmeen, who returned to the fold after a long injury lay-off, reiterated his comment, saying: “The friendly matches increase the harmony between the players. They help in implementing the plans drawn up by the coach Pinto and his staff.”
“We played a good match against Tajikistan and put up a fighting spirit. Our performance in the second half was brilliant as not we overturned the lead but also won the game, which is a very good sign,” he added.
“For the past two days, coach has been addressing the negatives of the Tajikistan match and urging the team to rectify those mistakes against Bahrain. As it is a very important match. We will seek to win the Bahrain match as it will be a big morale booster,” he said.
Meanwhile, the dates for the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023, have been approved by the AFC Competitions Committee last week.
The Round 2 fixtures will be played in March and June next year, with the third round slated to be played in September. The joint-qualifiers have been postponed twice in the view of the pandemic that wreaked havoc across the globe and the sports was one of the worst hit sectors.
The UAE, who are at the fourth spot in their group, need to win all four matches to make it to the next round. The Septuagenarian’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 Football Association chiefs are hopeful that the experienced coach, who accepted the challenge of taking the country to the next round, will live up to his reputation of man, who never gives up.
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.
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