UAE confirmed to play in 22-nation Fifa Arab Cup

Whites resume their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March

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The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt will compete in the 22-nation Arab Cup tournament in Qatar in December next year, Fifa said on Tuesday.

"We are delighted that all 22 teams from across the Arab world have agreed to take part in the Fifa Arab Cup 2021," said Fifa President Gianni Infantino in a statement.

Designed as a warm-up event ahead of the 2022 World Cup, the UAE will hope to still be in contention for one of the Asian places at international football's biggest tournament.

The Whites are currently fourth in Group C of the second round of qualifying, with only the group winners guaranteed passage into the third round alongside the four best runners-up. The UAE are five points behind leaders Vietnam, although they do hold a game in hand.

Following the suspension of qualifiers in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE will get their campaign back underway in March when they host second-placed Malaysia at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai. The Whites then travel to bottom team Indonesia the same month.

Their final two qualifiers are scheduled to take place in June with home games against Thailand and Vietnam.

The UAE are adjusting to life under new manager Jorge Luis Pinto and have lost two of their three official friendlies since his arrival. However, they have been boosted by the naturalisation of Caio, Fabio De Lima, and Sebastian Tagliabue - three of the Arabian Gulf League's finest talents.

Saudi Arabia are second in Group D and also have a game in hand, while Bahrain are second in Group C, two points behind Iraq.

Africa's second qualification round is yet to start but Egypt are the top seed in Group F and face Gabon, Libya, and Angola.