Abu Dhabi: UAE national team will be taking on Bolivia in international friendly today at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai as a part of their preparations for the 2019 Asian Cup UAE. The action starts at 6.25pm.
The UAE, the Asian Cup 2019 hosts, are placed in Group A alongside India, Bahrain and Thailand. They are the highest ranked team in the Group at the moment (81) 16 places above India (97).
The hosts will be looking to win the Asian Cup for the first time in February after finishing as runners-up to Saudi Arabia on home soil 22 years ago and third in Australia four years ago.
Earlier, the UAE’s high-profile friendly against Egypt slotted for November 20 was cancelled. The contest was set to take place at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium.
The postponement of the contest against Mohammad Salah’s side was a bit of a blow to coach Alberto Zaccheroni’s preparations for the Asian Cup, but he will want his boys to make the most of this contest against Bolivia.
Former AC Milan and Inter Milan coach Zaccheroni, who led Japan to the 2011 Asian Cup title, had called up mostly regular internationals for the two-week training camp but had included new faces from the Under-23 team that finished third in the Asian Games.
UAE team manager Obaid Habita speaking ahead of the Bolivia contest said the players have gone through their training drills with upmost enthusiasm and seriousness.
“The training has gone as per the guideline of the technical staff and all the players are keen to make it to the team for the contest. The fighting spirit that the boys have shown during the training session shows lot of optimism in the camp,” said Habita, who rated Bolivia as strong opponents with good technical and physical ability.
“Bolivia will be strong but the whites are read after following their good training programme. UAE looks good to rise up the challenge to get the positive result,” he said.
The UAE have won just one of their last eight encounters under Zaccheroni, who has won four out 14 matches since taking charge last November.
His team drew 1-1 with Honduras and lost 2-0 to Venezuela in friendlies in Barcelona last month and are currently 81st in the Fifa rankings, the eighth highest Asian team.