Manama: A buoyant Bahrain are all set for the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with head coach Helio Sousa naming a 23-player squad for the first two matches of their Group C campaign.
Despite having Asia's top-ranked side Islamic Republic of Iran and the exciting Iraq in their group, Bahrain will be fancying their chances after having lifted the 2019 WAFF Championship last month.
Bahrain defeated Iraq 1-0 in the final and Sousa's players will be eager to face them again in their opening tie in Riffa on Thursday.
The West Asians will then travel to Phnom Penh to play Cambodia on September 10. Hong Kong are the fifth team in Group C.
Karbala: A solitary goal from Isa Moosa Ali helped Bahrain to their first WAFF Championship title, beating tournament hosts Iraq 1-0 in the final at Karbala Sports City on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old struck shortly before half-time to silence the capacity crowd, before Bahrain held on to become the competition’s sixth winners since it was held for the first time in 2000.
Bahrain’s win caps a spectacular start to life at the helm for Portuguese head coach Hélio Sousa, who emerges from his first tournament in charge of the side with a regional title and four consecutive clean sheets.
Renard announces Saudi Arabia squad for Group D campaign
Riyadh:Head coach Herve Renard has named his first Saudi Arabia squad as the West Asians get set to begin their Asian Qualifiers campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Renard, appointed in July, has been tasked with ensuring Saudi Arabia qualify for their second successive FIFA World Cup and sixth overall.
They will also be chasing a fourth AFC Asian Cup title after their UAE 2019 campaign ended in the group stage.
Opening win will set us up nicely, says Uzbekistan's Cuper
Kuala Lumpur: Uzbekistan coach Hector Cuper is hoping his side can kick off their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign with a win over Palestine on Thursday to set the tone for the Central Asian side's challenge.
Uzbekistan have established themselves among the upper echelon of Asian football but have yet to represent the Continent on the game’s greatest stage and Cuper – who led Egypt to the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 – is determined to make a strong start to their challenge later this week.
Hong Kong's Paatelainen relishing Group C challenge
Kuala Lumpur: Head coach Mixu Paatelainen is hoping he can turn the negative of a difficult draw into a positive for the future of Hong Kong's football when Round 2 of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 begins on Thursday.
Hong Kong will commence their campaign against Cambodia in Phnom Penh before hosting Group C top seeds Islamic Republic of Iran five days later at Hong Kong Stadium in what represents a difficult start to their challenge.
Iraq and Bahrain are also in the group, with the pair meeting in Riffa on Thursday.
Kuala Lumpur: United Arab Emirates will carry winning form into the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 after registering back-to-back victories over Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka in friendlies matches played on Friday and Saturday.
Further good news for head coach Bert van Marwijk, who will be leading the UAE into competitive action for the first time, was the return of UAE talisman Omar Abdulrahman after a long injury lay-off.