Bert Van Marwijk has been entrusted with the responsibility of taking the UAE through to the joint qualifiers.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
UAE national coach Bert Van Marwijk announced an expanded list of the probables for the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup qualifiers. The players will attend a training camp, which will be held from May 15-31 in Dubai as part of the preparations for the qualifiers to be played in June.
The UAE’s joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup qualifiers have already been postponed thrice in the wake of the coronavirus and now are slated to be played in June.
The UAE will play Malaysia and Thailand on June 3 and 7 respectively which will be followed by the clashes against Indonesia and Vietnam on June 11 and 15 respectively.
Matches against Malaysia and Indonesia are not likely to be a major challenge for the UAE as they had registered comprehensive victories against them. The UAE defeated Malaysia 2-1 and Indonesia 5-0 respectively in the opening matches of the qualifiers earlier.
But the real challenge will be against Thailand and Vietnam. The UAE had gone down fighting to these countries in their previous round matches of the qualifiers.
The UAE team will begin assembling on Saturday without the players of Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr, who are busy with preparations for the final match of the President’s Cup to be held on May 16.
Players of Al Wahda and Fujairah will also join the camp later as they are slated to play the last match of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) season on Saturday as well.
The Round 24 match of the AGL, to be played between Al Wahda and Fujairah, was postponed due to some undisclosed reasons.
Fujairah and Ajman are fighting for survival in the AGL as they are both level on 15 points. Ajman have a superior head-to-head record while Fujairah have one game more in hand than their rivals.
During the camp, the UAE team will play an international friendly match against Jordan on May 24 before the warmup for the qualifiers.
Van Marwijk is busy charting out a map for the UAE to qualify for the showpiece event. The UAE’s qualification hopes are hanging by a thread as they need to win all their remaining matches to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Van Marwijk has returned to the UAE fold for the second time as a coach. He succeeded Jorge Luis Pinto, who departed with mutual consent without being in charge of a single official game despite remaining at the helm for almost half a year.
Van Marwijk was with the UAE team for nine months during his first stint. During his first spell as the UAE coach Van Marwijk had mixed fortunes with the team. He was appointed in March and departed in December in 2019 following their defeat against Qatar at the Gulf Cup, not even completing a year.
The Dutch is a renowned coach, who guided The Netherlands to the FIFA World Cup final in 2010 and also helped Saudi Arabia in their qualification for the 2018 World Cup, held in Russia. He also coached Australia at the 2018 World Cup.
The UAE suffered a huge setback in their preparations for the joint qualifiers of 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup after going down 3-1 to Bahrain in a friendly match in Dubai on Monday.
An upbeat Pinto said he is excited to be working as the new UAE coach and relishing the challenge of taking the team through to the next stage of the joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
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