UAE international Rayan Yaslam says the squad are confident Bert van Marwijk can carry them to the next level as they seek to quickly impress the new manager.
The Dutchman, 66, was appointed last week as the permanent successor to Alberto Zaccheroni and immediately outlined that qualification for the 2022 World Cup represented his solitary objective. The UAE have only once previously qualified for the global finals, in 1990.
Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last summer’s World Cup before leaving his post before the tournament, although he did manage Australia in Russia. In 2010, he led the Netherlands to the final, where they lost to Spain.
The former Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg manager watched from the stands on Thursday as the UAE defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a friendly in Abu Dhabi. On Tuesday, he will be at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in the same capacity for the national team’s friendly against Syria. Saleem Abdelrahman remains in charge for that match.
However, Van Marwijk's arrival has already had an impact on the national team. Yaslam, who featured as a substitute against Saudi Arabia, says the motivation is high within what has been largely an experimental squad this past week.
“For sure,” the Al Ain attacking midfielder said. “It is a great time to be with the national team. Everybody wants to show the new coach his skills, his ability to help the team. Most of the players at the moment are new faces.
“Without the new coach they would give 100 per cent for themselves. Plus the new coach is here, so everyone wants to show even more that they can give something to the team.
“Everyone knows that he took the Saudi national team to the World Cup. We saw him in the World Cup with Australia, so most of the players know him well.
“Our federation wants the best for the national team. So our trust in them is big, meaning we have a big confidence in Bert van Marwijk. We hope he will be good for us and that he will help us go to the next level.”
Yaslam was part of the UAE squad that reached the semi-finals of the Asian Cup, played in the Emirates, earlier this year.
Asked if Van Marwijk’s appointment has given him fresh impetus personally, he replied: “Yes, but to be in the national team is enough for me to give all that I have. I thank God to be one of these 24 or 25 players. Hopefully we will be good in the next stages.”
Qualification for the 2022 World Cup begins in September. The draw for qualification takes place next month.