National service claims Kasheif

The UAE national team saw the return of Omar Abdulrahman from injury but lost goalkeeper Ali Kasheif, who will miss the Asian Cup due to being called for national service.
Omar Abdulrahman, left, was out to train at the CBus Super Stadium, south of Brisbane, Australia, after having not playing a match since he limped out of the Gulf Cup of Nations semi-final against Saudi Arabia on November 23. The UAE face Jordan in a friendly on December 30 in preparation for the Asian Cup. Courtesy UAE FA
Omar Abdulrahman, left, was out to train at the CBus Super Stadium, south of Brisbane, Australia, after having not playing a match since he limped out of the Gulf Cup of Nations semi-final against Saudi Arabia on November 23. The UAE face Jordan in a friendly on December 30 in preparation for the Asian Cup. Courtesy UAE FA

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA // With goalkeeper Ali Kasheif missing due to national service, the UAE national team began training here in the run-up to their January 11 Asian Cup opener against Qatar.

The Al Jazira keeper, 27, was named in the travelling party but did not board the plane for Australia in Dubai on Tuesday.

He had been called for national service before last month’s Gulf Cup of Nations but deferred it to play in the tournament in Saudi Arabia.

Kasheif has not had his most impressive season with his club as Jazira have leaked 26 goals in 13 league matches. He was in goal for 11 of those matches.

The absence of Kasheif, the primary UAE goalkeeper since the London Olympics in 2012, would seem to open the door for Majed Naser, the temperamental Al Ahli keeper, in the first XI.

He was the in goal for the UAE for all three matches of their stay in the 2011 Asian Cup.

Khalid Essa, the Al Ain goalkeeper, seem positioned to move into the second spot in the team plans.

Sharjah goalkeeper Mohamed Yousif has been called up as a replacement for the Asian Cup, where the UAE have been drawn alongside Bahrain, Iran and Qatar in Group C.

The Emiratis arrived in Australia on Tuesday after a 14-hour flight from Dubai to Brisbane, then made a one-hour bus ride to Gold Coast, the Football Association said.

They were received at the airport by Faisal Saif Al Mazroui from the UAE embassy and Hassan Fahad, executive secretary of teams department at the FA, who went to Australia ahead of the team to ensure all arrangements regarding accommodation, transportation and training ground were made.

The team held their first training session at the Robina Stadium under the leadership of coach Mahdi Ali, who spoke with the players about the need of doubling their efforts on the pitch.

UAE supporters will be encouraged that Omar Abdulrahman, the focal point of the team’s attack in recent years, appeared to train.

At a news conference last week, Mahdi Ali suggested that Abdulrahman would be ready to train after five to seven more days. He appeared to suffer a leg injury during the 3-2 loss to Saudi Arabia in the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup of Nations on Novmber 23. He has not appeared in a match for club or country since.

The Emiratis are preparing for two friendlies in Gold Coast during their training camp.

In the first game, they will play Jordan on December 30. In the second, they will face Kuwait on January 3.

Both sides also are in the Asian Cup, and the UAE could meet Jordan in the quarter-finals of the 16-nation tournament, but they cannot play Kuwait before the semi-finals.

The UAE team will head to the Australian capital of Canberra on January 7 in preparation for their first tournament match.

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 24, 2014 04:00 AM

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