Abu Dhabi: Members of the UAE senior football national team returned to their respective clubs to prepare for the matches of the 15th week of Etisalat Pro League, to be played on Saturday and Sunday (January 26 and 27) following the end of their celebrations after winning the 21st Gulf Cup in Bahrain on January 18.
The players will gather again on Monday to leave for China, where they will hold a short training camp, prior to heading for Vietnam for their match on February 6 in the qualifiers for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.
While in China, they will play a friendly match against Thailand on January 31 before travelling to Hanoi for their last phase of preparations.
The UAE are no strangers to the Hanoi stadium, where they played the first round of the 2007 Asian Cup and returned again there to play in the qualifiers of the 2014 World Cup.
Mahdi Ali, the head coach of the team, told reporters on Tuesday: “It is time to end the celebrations and start thinking about our next commitment against Vietnam in the qualifiers of the Asian Cup.”
Ali said he would not necessarily take the same team that won the Gulf Cup: “The new list will be announced at the end of the 15th round of the league. It might features the same names or there might be one or two new players or we might rest some players. It depends on how the players will perform in the league.”
The Professional League Committee (PLC) had postponed the matches of the 14th week to give the national team players a rest after their successful campaign in Bahrain.
They have scheduled five matches involving all the clubs who had players in the squad for Saturday, while the clubs with no players in the national team will compete on Sunday (namely Dubai, Al Dhafra, Al Shaab and Dibba).