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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

UAE manager Bert van Marwijk to hold first training camp in January

Dutch coach targeting three camps before 2022 World Cup qualifiers in March

UAE manager Bert van Marwijk watched Arabian Gulf League matches over the weekend. Pawan Singh / The National
UAE manager Bert van Marwijk watched Arabian Gulf League matches over the weekend. Pawan Singh / The National

Bert van Marwijk will hold his first training camp at the beginning of next month, in his second stint as UAE manager.

The Dutchman, reappointed last week as successor to Jorge Luis Pinto, is expected to gather his squad from January 2-12, with a four-team friendly tournament to take place during that time.

The UAE are likely to play two matches, with Iraq understood to be their initial opponents, on January 9. Congo and Togo have been suggested as the tournament’s other participants.

Dismissed last December having spent only nine months in the role, Van Marwijk has returned to guide the UAE through qualification for the 2022 World Cup. The second round, postponed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic, resumes in March.

Given the short space of time until then, Van Marwijk is said to be targeting three training camps in the interim: one in January, one early February and then in March, in the immediate lead-up to the qualifying double-header against Malaysia and Indonesia. The UAE are scheduled to face Malaysia at home on March 25, and Indonesia away five days later.

With qualification suspended since March, the UAE remain where they were when Van Marwijk left more than one year ago.

The national team are fourth in Group G, five points off leaders Vietnam. However, they have a game in hand over the other four teams in the standings.

Only the group winners are guaranteed to progress to the third and final round of qualification, together with the four best runners-ups from the eight pools. The UAE have only once previously reached a World Cup, in 1990.

After March, the national team round off their group campaign against Thailand and Vietnam – Thailand sit third, two points better off – in June. Both matches will be played at home.

Van Marwijk, 68, began his second stint in earnest on Thursday when, after completing formalities at the Football Association on his new contract, he attended the Arabian Gulf League match between Al Wasl and Al Jazira at the Zabeel Stadium. He then took in Al Nasr against Al Ain at Al Maktoum Stadium on Friday.

Published: December 20, 2020 04:09 PM

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