Manama: The UAE national team arrived in Bahrain on Thursday ahead of the start of the 21st Gulf Cup on Saturday, when the Whites will take on Qatar in their opening game.
Coach Mahdi Ali and his squad landed in Manama after making the short flight from Doha, where they had been taking part in a training camp and played a brace of friendlies against Yemen, winning both.
The team were joined in Manama by Yousuf Al Serkal, President of the UAE Football Association and leader of the country’s delegation to the Gulf Cup. The delegation also includes Pro League Committee President Mohammad Thani Al Rumaithi, UAE FA Vice-President Obaid Salim Al Shamsi and board members Rashid Al Za’abi, Mohammad Omer, Nasser Al Yamahi, Ganem Ahmad Ganem, FA Secretary-General Yousuf Abdullah, Director of the Office of FA president Nasser Bin Thaloap and other officials, players, technical and medical staff and media members.
Mohammad Obaid, General Supervisor of the UAE team, said the Whites are well-prepared for the tournament, in which they will also face the hosts and Oman in the group stage.
“Everything is well in place,” Obaid said. “We have completed our preparations and our Doha tour will hopefully pay off during the Gulf football extravaganza.
“The training camp in Qatar went according to plan, although the head coach Mahdi Ali said he needed more time to ensure that the required harmony between the players has been achieved.”
Speaking about the two friendlies against Yemen, which the UAE won 2-0 and 3-1, Obaid said Ali’s side made a lot of progress. “All of the players were tried to assess their mental and bodily readiness for the competition,” he said.
“I think the head coach Mahdi Ali did well by naming 23 players for the Qatar tour. The presence of additional players motivated the key players to show the best of themselves in order not to lose their positions in the first 11. But, above all, we now have 23 players who are on full alert to carry the country’s hopes.”
Meanwhile, the UAE’s international referee Mohammad Abdul Karim and assistant referees Saleh Al Marzouqi and Ahmad Al Shamsi have successfully passed the prescribed tests ahead of the competition.