Dubai: Ali Mabkhout, Fabio de Lima and Ali Saleh scored a goal each as the UAE national football team signed off their external training camp with a 3-2 friendly win against FC Indjija, in Serbia, on Tuesday.
Mabkhout converted from the spot while Al Wasl teammates de Lima and Saleh scored during regulation period as the UAE ended their overseas preparations for the joint qualifiers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Finals in China.
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The squad of 28 players, led by new Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto, was scheduled to land in the UAE by a special flight later on Wednesday after cutting short their training camp by four days.
Earlier last week, the world governing body Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) postponed all joint qualifying matches that were scheduled to be held in October due to the prevailing coronavirus situation in Asia.
Since the national squad was already in training at their base on the outskirts of Belgrade, Serbia, the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) debated and finally took the decision to bring the team back home so that players could join with their respective clubs and continue preparations for the start of the domestic season and the final round of qualifiers for the AFC Champions League scheduled to be held in Doha next month.
The UAE football season that had been suspended and ultimately postponed in mid-March, is scheduled for a fresh kick-off with the Arabian Gulf Cup on September 3-4 followed by the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) the following week.
The prevailing situation is for all countries and everyone has been struggling to give adequate training and preparation time for their squads. Our main focus is to ensure that everyone is safe and secure during these unusual times
Four of the clubs from the UAE – Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Ain and Al Wahda – will be travelling to Qatar for the 2020 AFC Champions League qualifiers to be held at a centralised venue in Doha from September 13.
The UAE FA is expected to meet Pinto during the week and decide on a fresh preparation schedule for the national squad. “One of the points up for discussion will be having an ample number of friendly matches especially now that the qualifying dates have been pushed forward,” Mohammad Obaid Hammad, the general supervisor of the UAE national team, told Gulf News.
“The prevailing situation is for all countries and everyone has been struggling to give adequate training and preparation time for their squads. Our main focus is to ensure that everyone is safe and secure during these unusual times,” he added.
The supervisor of the national team further said that the new programme for The Whites for their next stage of preparation will be studied and debated by the Technical Affairs Committee in coordination with the technical staff of the national team coach and his staff.
Meanwhile, the Fifa Council Bureau has unanimously approved a set of further changes to the men and women’s international match calendars in response to the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that persists in most parts of the world. These changes follow a thorough consultation process with the confederations and football stakeholders. The fresh dates for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Finals are yet to be announced.