UAE begin preparations without stars Abdulrahman and Mabkhout
Salzburg: Bert van Marwijk’s United Arab Emirates took their first step towards the Asian Qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 as they began preparations in Austria on Sunday.
Dutchman van Marwijk, who replaced Italian Alberto Zaccheroni last March, gathered his team in Munich, Germany before travelling to Salzburg where the team will spend a week before returning to Dubai on July 22.
UAE, who are among the 34 teams to have received a bye into the second round of the Asian Qualifiers, will begin their campaign on September 5 with their second match five days later.
The 24-man squad sees the inclusion of shot stopper Adel Al Hosani, who won the Golden Glove Award at the season-ending 2018-19 UAE Pro League awards. Al Jazira's Khalfan Mubarak, who was named the Best Emirati Player, has also been included.
Absent from the nine-day get-together are 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman, who is still nursing an injury, as well as 2015 AFC Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout and Al Jazira teammate Zayed Al Ameri.
“Omar Abdulrahman is absent from this team camp. Ali Mabkhout is missing because of special circumstances and Zayed Al Ameri did not join the internal gathering in Dubai,” a UAE Football Association statement read.
“The list is free of Al Wahda players, who are preparing for the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.”
Under Zaccheroni, UAE reached the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on home soil.
The Emiratis bowed out to eventual winners Qatar 4-0 at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Following the camp in July, the squad will reconvene again from August 24 to September 10 ahead of the two qualifiers.
The draw for the second round will be made on Wednesday at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.