UAE players have chance to impress Bert van Marwijk against Saudi Arabia and Syria, says Saleem Abdelrahman

Dutchman has been appointed the new permanent manager of the national team but caretaker Abdelrahman will be in charge for the upcoming friendlies

Ali Mabkhout and his UAE teammates will be playing for the first time under the watchful eye of new manager Bert van Marwijk. AP Photo
Ali Mabkhout and his UAE teammates will be playing for the first time under the watchful eye of new manager Bert van Marwijk. AP Photo

The upcoming friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Syria will provide UAE internationals an ideal opportunity to stake a claim for a permanent place in Bert van Marwijk’s squad, says caretaker manager Saleem Abdelrahman.

The national team, who on Wednesday confirmed Van Marwijk as their new permanent manager, take on Saudi Arabia at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday before hosting Syria five days later at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium. The UAE have not played since their run to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup.

A member of Alberto Zaccheroni’s coaching staff during the continental competition on home soil, Abdelrahman has taken temporary charge for this week’s training camp and the two friendlies, despite Van Marwijk’s appointment.

The squad met up on Sunday, and features a number of fresh names because of injuries and other commitments, including Friday’s Arabian Gulf Cup final between Al Wahda and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, and the Olympic team’s involvement in Riyadh in qualification for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship.

“It’s a very good chance for the players in the squad,” Abdelrahman said. “It is very important also for the national team to have matches and to continue playing after the Asian Cup.

“There are new faces mixing with experienced players, so that is very good. Also, it will be important for the new coach to have the opportunity to see more players, maybe those that did not play in the Asian Cup.”

As expected, Arabian Gulf League leaders Sharjah are well represented, with new call-ups Abdullah Ghanem and Shahin Abdulrahman part of a five-man contingent. Al Nasr’s Habib Fardan, meanwhile, has been recalled having fallen out of favour during Zaccheroni’s tenure.

“The players have a high motivation,” said Abdelrahman, who thanked the national team's technical committee for giving him the chance to manage the side. “Every time they put on the national team jersey they give 100 per cent.

"I want to see good play and the players showing their talent. They deserve to be in the squad. They have played well in the league, so they have to take the opportunity now to show themselves for the future.”

Published: March 20, 2019 08:03 PM


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