Dubai: UAE coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s squad had four new inclusions following Caio Canedo Correa’s self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 recently.
Pinto’s final squad of 28 players, scheduled to depart for their first overseas training camp to Serbia on Wednesday, included two new midfielders, one goalkeeper and a defender to the recently-announced list of probables. The UAE are preparing for their last three matches of the joint qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar and the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to be held in China.
Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hossani, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai defender Mohammad Marzooq and Al Wasl defender Ali Salmeen have all pulled out of the list of probables to give themselves additional time to recover from various injuries.
Pinto has therefore called up Al Dhafra’s goalkeeper Khalid Al Senani, Al Wahda’s defender Fares Juma and midfielder Khalil Ebrahim and Sharjah’s midfielder Khalid Bawazir into the squad travelling to Serbia later on Wednesday.
Last year, the UAE had decided to naturalise Argentinean Sebastian Tagliabue along with Brazil’s Fabio Virginio de Lima and Caio to bolster the national football squad. With Caio stepping away into self-quarantine, only Tagliabue and Lima will make the trip to Serbia for the training camp.
The well-travelled Pinto from Colombia was unveiled as the new coach in place of Serbian Jovan Ivanovic, who was asked to part ways on mutual terms earlier this year without assuming charge of the national team’s campaign even for a single match.
The squad of players reported back in Al Ain on Monday after a short break for Eid. Till then, the squad of players had been working on their fitness levels following a return from the lengthy break from sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 68-year-old Pinto and his coaching staff are scheduled to depart with the UAE squad of players on a specially chartered flight to Serbia for the training camp that is expected to last under three weeks. The players and coaching staff have all been subjected to the strict health protocols as laid down by the UAE government.
In a tough Group G, ‘The Whites’ are scheduled to host Malaysia on October 8 and then leave for Jakarta to face Indonesia on October 13, Thailand on November 12 and finally Vietnam at home in the UAE, on November 17.
With an extra game in hand, The Whites still have a chance of advancing to the third stage of qualifying provided they can win all of their next four matches. The good thing is that three of their four matches will be on home turf with that opener against Malaysia on October 8.
The UAE are in fourth place with six points in Group G, which is being led by Vietnam with 11 points, followed by Malaysia (9) and Thailand (8), while Indonesia is yet to win a point.
Khalid Essa, Ali Kashif, Mohammad Al Shamsi, Khalid Al Senani, Mohammad Barghash, Abdul Aziz Haikal, Salim Rashid, Yousuf Jaber, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Faris Juma, Mohammad Ahmad, Walid Abbas, Esmail Ahmad, Majid Hassan, Tariq Ahmad, Khamis Esmail, Abdullah Ramadan, Ahmad Barman, Fabio de Lima, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ali Saleh, Khalid Bawazir, Khalil Ebrahim, Omar Abdul Rahman, Khalfan Mubarak, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue, Ahmad Khalil.