UAE take first step on long path towards targets with friendly against Paraguay in Austria

National team, who have mapped out plans through to 2023 Asian Cup, take on South Americans on Friday

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UAE team manager Yasser Salem says preparations have begun in earnest for the busy road ahead through to the 2023 Asian Cup.

The UAE are currently in Austria for an 11-day training camp, with Friday’s friendly against Paraguay their first match since losing the Fifa World Cup play-off in June. After Paraguay – the match takes place in Wiener Neustadt, just south of Vienna - the national team take on Venezuela in another friendly next Tuesday.

The camp marks the first in a number of UAE get-togethers as Rodolfo Arruabarrena's men set sights first on the Arabian Gulf Cup in Iraq in January, and then the West Asian Football Federation Championship, on home soil, in March and April.

Focus will then shift to the Asian Cup next summer. The hosts for the continent’s premier competition have yet to be decided following China’s withdrawal in May.

The national team have already confirmed their next training camp, in Abu Dhabi in November, where they will take on Argentina in a high-profile friendly and then Kazakhstan. Those fixtures fall on November 16 and 19.

Salem said preparations in Austria have been going well – the UAE have been there since Saturday - while he stressed priority has been given to implementing Arruabarrena's philosophy rather than results against Paraguay or Venezuela.

Salem said: "An ambitious plan has been drawn up for the national team by the Football Association and the National Teams Committee, and in coordination with the team’s technical staff, to ensure the best preparation. Because we are on the verge of important competitions, during which we hope to achieve the desired results.

“The start will be with tomorrow’s match against Paraguay, the first friendly match for the national team this season, and then the team will play a second international friendly on the 27th against Venezuela before returning to the UAE.

“We all know that such friendly matches are aimed at obtaining technical benefits for the team, regardless of results.”

Updated: September 22, 2022, 1:10 PM