Bert van Marwijk Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: Incoming coach Bert van Marwijk took his first steps towards a second more successful stint with the UAE national football team while announcing a squad of 31 for a training camp prior to their friendly against Iraq later in January.

The UAE is to scheduled to play Iraq in a friendly match on January 12 and van Marwijk announced his squad of players with his first match in-charge during his second stint as the UAE national team manager.

The Dutchman was first appointed as the UAE team coach in March 2019, and then sacked before the end of the year following the UAE’s 4-2 defeat to Qatar in the Arabian Gulf Cup. However, the 68-year-old was reappointed earlier in December to lead the UAE campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in neighbouring Qatar.

The National Teams and Technical Affairs Committee at the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) approved the expanded list of national team players submitted by van Marwijk in preparation for their next in-house camp to be held in Dubai from January 3 to 12.

Van Marwijk has included the naturalised trio of foreigners — Fabio de Lima, Caio Canedo and Sebastian Tagliabue — in his list of players. But, the coach is expected to make a possible few changes early next week after gauging the fitness of the probables following this weekend’s Round 12 of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).

Van Marwijk, who led the Netherlands to the World Cup final in South Africa in 2010, had been in charge of the UAE for 260 days before being fired after a 4-2 loss to Qatar during the Gulf Cup last December.

Van Marwijk had been replaced by former Al Nasr boss Ivan Jovanovic, but the Serbian left in April without having taken charge of a game following the situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto who took control later in the summer, also departed after disappointing performances in friendlies including losses to Uzbekistan and Bahrain, while paving the way for the Dutch coach to take over for a second time.

The UAE needs to win all four of their preliminary round matches for the joint qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup that were rescheduled for a start in March 2021. The UAE are currently fourth in Group G and a maximum of 12 points will see them through to the third stage of qualifying.

The UAE’s first match is at home against Malaysia on March 25 followed by an away game against bottom-placed Indonesia on March 30. Their next two matches will be at home against Thailand and Vietnam on June 7 and 15, respectively.