The UAE’s friendly against Venezuela on Tuesday provides another valuable opportunity to hone tactics ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup on home soil, according to defender Mahmoud Khamis.
The national team, who open the continental competition against Bahrain on January 5, round off the third of five training camps with the fixture against the South Americans in Barcelona, a match that should supply their sternest test since preparations began in earnest for the home event.
Venezuela sit 32nd in the Fifa world rankings, with the UAE 45 places below them.
However, Alberto Zaccheroni’s side go into the game buoyed by last week’s 1-1 draw in the friendly against Honduras.
Venezuela will therefore offer another chance to work on tactics and strategy before the squad return to their respective clubs on Wednesday.
“The team played very well against Honduras and was the better side despite the strength of Honduras both physically and technically," Khamis said. "But we were able to impose our control and play in our style.
“The most important aspect in friendly matches is to reach the level desired by the technical staff, who were keen during the last training sessions to apply a number of tactical points on how to build the attack, as well as the defensive positioning and pressurising the ball.”
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The UAE, who are placed in Group A for the Asian Cup alongside Bahrain, India and Thailand, will be without a number of key players against Venezuela. Chief among those will be strike pair Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil, and Al Ain defender Mohammed Ahmed. All three have left the camp because of injury.
“The next match against Venezuela will be completely different [to Honduras], given they are one of the strongest teams in South America and hold a high position in the Fifa rankings,” said Majed Hassan, the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai midfielder.
“The atmosphere in camp is positive, especially in regards to morale, because the players are doing everything in their power to provide the best level.”