Dubai: Bert van Marwijk’s UAE national side signed off from their World Cup 2022 qualifying preparations at the weekend with two convincing victories over the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka in Bahrain.
With one eye on the qualifiers at Malaysia on September 10 before a double-header against Indonesia and Thailand in October.
The UAE have also been drawn against Vietnam in Asia Zone Group G and should feel confident of progressing to the third round of qualifying. Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout has been in sparkling form, grabbing a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Sri Lanka on Saturday. Ahmed Barman and Ali Saleh scored the other goals. The Whites defeated the Dominicans 4-0 on Friday, with Salem Jasim, Khalil Ibrahim (2) and Bandar Al Ahbabi getting on the scoresheet.
Van Marwijk — who has helped Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands qualify for previous editions of the World Cup, while also overseeing Australia during the tournament in Russia last summer — took over as coach of the UAE side in March and has set his sights on reaching Qatar 2022.
“I am not a magician, but I am a serious coach who has every intention of bringing in the change in UAE football,” van Marwijk said when he took over.
“I am more than aware of the tremendous levels of talent present in the UAE. It is my job now to identify this talent and ensure we have a national team that can be competitive enough to reach another World Cup.”
The UAE reached the World Cup finals on one occasion before at Italia 90, where they lost their group games against Colombia, West Germany and Yugoslavia.