UAE Olympic football team using Turkey to prepare for Uzbekistan
With passage to the London Olympics only 90 minutes away, the UAE's Under 23 football team travel to Istanbul on Tuesday to begin training ahead of the March 14 match in Uzbekistan.
They will be reinforced by Hamdan Al Kamali, who has been given permission by Lyon, the France Ligue 1 side, to join his UAE teammates on Thursday.
The U23 team lead Group B in qualifying for London 2012, and a draw in Tashkent would be enough to put the UAE footballers in the Summer Games for the first time.
A defeat would make the Olympic quest more difficult. The runner-up from Group B will join the second-place teams from the other two Asia groups for a three-sided tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam, beginning on March 25. The survivor there would play Senegal in Coventry, England, in April, and the winner goes to London.
Training in Turkey recommended itself to the FA's technical committee because it offers a climate more resembling that of Uzbekistan than does the UAE, and Tashkent can be reached by direct flight from Istanbul.
Mahdi Ali's club played a 0-0 draw with Uzbekistan in Al Ain in November. Kick-off is 6pm in Tashkent (5pm UAE).
Published: February 28, 2012 04:00 AM