Dubai: UAE national football team coach Bert van Marwijk has dropped two goalkeepers and a couple of midfielders while trimming down his squad for their internal training camp before their friendly match against Iraq on January 12.
Van Marwijk, who took over the UAE assignment for the second time in December, had named a squad of 31 players for the training camp with a plan to trim it down to a list of 27 following the completion of last weekend’s Round 12 of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
The 68-year-old Dutch coach has decided to rest Adel Al Hossani and Mohammad Al Shamsi while retaining the services of Khalid Eisa, Ali Khaseif and Fahad Al Dhanhani as goalkeepers.
In the defense, van Marwijk has made just that one change while dropping Ahmad Rashid from the announced line-up while keeping Mohammad Saleh Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Shaheen Abdul Rahman, Hassan Al Moharrami, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Yousuf Jaber and Majid Surour.
All the midfielders who were in the preliminary list have made the cut with the coach persisting with Salem Rashid, Majed Hassan, Ali Hassan Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdulla Al Naqbi, Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Fabio de Lima, Khalfan Mubarak, Tahnoon Al Zaabi, Ali Saleh and Bandar Al Ahbabi.
For strikers, Van Marwijk has retained his faith in Brazilian Caio Canedo and Argentine Sebastian Tagliabue, alongside Ali Mabkhout and Zayed Al Ameri. The UAE squad of players are scheduled to assemble for their training camp in Dubai from January 3 and play Iraq in their friendly on January 12.
The Dutchman was first appointed as the UAE 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, he was re-appointed earlier in December to lead the UAE campaign for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in neighbouring Qatar.
Van Marwijk, who had led The Netherlands to the 2010 Fifa World Cup final in South Africa, was replaced by former Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic in charge of the UAE squad. The Serbian left in April without having taken charge of the squad following 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, paving the way for the Dutch coach to take over for a second time.
The UAE need 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 re-scheduled 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.
(Goalkeepers) Khalid Eisa, Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani.
(Defenders) Mohamed Saleh Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Shaheen Abdelrahman, Hassan Al Moharrami, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Yousef Jaber, Majid Surour.
(Midfielders) Salem Rashid, Majed Hassan, Ali Hassan Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdulla Al Naqbi, Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Fabio de Lima, Khalfan Mubarak, Tahnoon Al Zaabi, Ali Saleh, Bandar Al Ahbabi.
(Forwards) Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue, Zayed Al Ameri, Caio Canedo.