The UAE national team are ramping up preparations for 2026 World Cup qualification with a training camp in Croatia – their second with new manager Paulo Bento.
The squad, including the likes of all-time record goalscorer Ali Mabkhout, were put through their paces for the first time in Zagreb on Sunday, as they kicked off a 10-day get-together in the Croatian capital. The UAE play Costa Rica in a friendly there next week.
The technical staff has made some changes to the initial squad for Croatia, with Al Bataeh defender Rashed Muhayer withdrawn through injury and Al Jazira forward Zayed Al Ameri called up for national service. Alhassan Saleh, the Sharjah left-back, has been drafted into the camp.
The travelling party to Zagreb included three debutants: Jazira duo Mubarak Ahmed and Abdullah Al Attas, and Al Ain’s Hazem Mohammed.
Bento, who guided South Korea to the knockout stages of last year’s World Cup, was appointed in July as successor to Argentine Rodolfo Arruabarrena. The Portuguese coach's first training session with the national team took place last month, in Austria.
Bento, 54, has been tasked with guiding the UAE to securing a place at the expanded 2026 World Cup – and only a second global finals in the country’s history.
The second round of qualification commences in November, with the UAE hosting Nepal or Laos – the two contest a play-off next month – on November 16 before taking on Bahrain in Manama five days later. The national team, who missed out on Qatar 2022 in the play-offs, have been drawn in Group H, which will also feature either Yemen or Sri Lanka.