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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Bert van Marwijk pleased with 'high spirit and morale' of UAE squad during training camp

Dutchman continues work with national team ahead of 2022 World Cup qualifiers next month

UAE manager Bert van Marwijk says he is pleased with the progress his side are making since he returned to the role, as work continues ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.

The Dutchman, 68, was reappointed as manager in December little more than a year after his first stint in charge, and has been tasked primarily with guiding the UAE through the postponed second round of qualification. The team have four matches remaining.

The UAE squad gathered in Dubai on Saturday for a five-day training camp, the second get-together with Van Marwijk since he reprised his position. Another, lengthier camp is planned for next month, before the UAE are slated to resume their Group G campaign with the double-header against Malaysia and Indonesia.

However, given the on-going restrictions enforced because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are concerns that the next two matchdays might not go ahead next month.

Speaking about the current camp, Van Marwijk said: "We are working to enhance the harmony between the different elements of the team, and I need time to train with the players, so I’m completely happy with this short camp.

“And I’m even happier with the spirit of the players and their fight for the chance to play in the starting line-up, that high spirit and morale that we're focusing on.

"The players have begun to understand the style of play that we want to implement. This is very important at that stage, but it definitely takes time to reach what we all want.”

At present, the UAE are fourth in Group G, five points off leaders Vietnam, although they have played a game less than each of the other teams in the group. They are scheduled to close out the campaign in June, with home matches against Thailand and Vietnam.

For now, though, Van Marwijk said his focus is on the upcoming clash against Malaysia, at home on March 25, before the UAE then travel to take on Indonesia five days’ later – should those matches be cleared to take place.

“We are preparing now for the first qualifying match against Malaysia,” the former Netherlands and Saudi Arabia manager said. “I told the players we have to win that match.

“We are working on two sides: the first is to increase understanding and to become familiar with the required style of play, and the second is to play with a fighting spirit in matches, specifically in the first confrontation in the qualifiers.”

Van Marwijk also threw his support behind the UAE’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, which on Tuesday surpassed 4.5 million doses, saying: “The pandemic affects the whole world, but I see great interest here in the health and safety of everyone, and in the fight against Covid-19. The tests are many and continuous here.

“I wish for everyone to get vaccinated. There are many countries in the world that don’t have the advantage of access to a high amount of vaccinations, as is the case here in the Emirates, so I hope everyone will participate in the vaccination."

Published: February 10, 2021 02:17 PM

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