UAE to resume 2022 World Cup qualifying next March

AFC Competitions Committee have now agreed that Stage 2 should be completed by June 15

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The UAE will resume their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign next March after the Asian Football Confederation approved the new dates on Wednesday.

The second round of qualification was postponed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the rescheduled fixtures, slated for September and October, again pushed back in August. That qualification round was originally to conclude this month.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee have now agreed that Stage 2 should be completed by June 15, with Match Day 7 and 8 taking place in March, and Match Day 9 and 10 in June. The final round is then to begin the following September and completed by March 2022, while the Asian and Intercontinental play-offs are proposed for that May or June. The Fifa World Cup will be staged in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

Currently, the UAE sit fourth in the five-team Group G, five points off leaders Vietnam, although they do have a game in hand over each of their rivals. The national team still have to play Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam at home, and Indonesia away.

The top team in each of the eight groups and the four best runners-up will advance to the third stage of qualifying. The UAE have only once previously appeared at a World Cup, in 1990.

At present, the national team are managed by Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto, who was appointed in July. The squad have been training this week in Dubai ahead of a friendly double-header against Tajikistan, on Thursday, and Bahrain, on Monday.