UAE ramp up preparations for 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Dubai - in pictures

Manager Bert van Marwijk, who on Wednesday celebrated his 69th birthday, put his 28-man group through their paces under the lights at the home of Al Wasl

The UAE have ramped up preparations for next month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers in Dubai, with only two weeks until they resume their postponed Group G campaign.

The national team, attempting to advance to the third and final round of qualification for Qatar 2022, have been based in Dubai since Saturday.

However, the full squad trained together for the first time at the Zabeel Stadium only on Wednesday, following Al Wahda’s rearranged Arabian Gulf League match against Fujairah last Saturday and Sunday’s President’s Cup final between Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr. The UAE face Jordan in a friendly on Monday.

Manager Bert van Marwijk, who on Wednesday celebrated his 69th birthday, put his 28-man group through their paces under the lights at the home of Al Wasl, as the national team gears up for a busy 13-day period next month in which they bid to salvage their World Cup aspirations.

The UAE are currently fourth in Group G, five points off leaders Vietnam, although they have a game in hand over the other four teams in the pool. After opening against second-placed Malaysia on June 3, the national team take on third-placed Thailand four days later and bottom side Indonesia on June 11. They round off their campaign on June 15 with a potentially decisive clash against Vietnam.

All eight remaining matches in Group G take place in Dubai following the Asian Football Confederation’s decision to stage the delayed qualifiers in centralised venues. Zabeel Stadium will host the UAE’s fixtures, with Nasr’s Al Maktoum Stadium providing the venue for the other games.

Only the group winners are guaranteed to advance to the third round, together with the four best runners-up. The UAE have only once previously appeared at a World Cup, in 1990.

Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are scheduled to play two friendlies each in the build-up to June 3, while Vietnam are slated to play a single warm-up match, most likely Jordan, before reopening their campaign against Indonesia on June 7.

Published: May 20, 2021 03:44 PM

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