Enjoy our faster App experience

Marwijk laying a fresh blueprint for the UAE

Marwijk laying a fresh blueprint for the UAE
TOP FLIGHT: The UAE's Ali Mabkhout was adjudged the player of the match against Malaysia. - Twitter

Dubai - The coach has put faith in a number of young players

By James Jose

Published: Wed 11 Sep 2019, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 11 Sep 2019, 11:43 PM

Bert van Marwijk may have had a rather dramatic bow with the UAE in their opening Group G fixture against Malaysia but on the evidence of it, it gives cause for optimism on their road to World Cup qualification.
The Dutchman is no stranger to top level football and comes with a fine pedigree. And going by the 67-year-old's first competitive match as the UAE coach, the grey-haired astute tactician is already laying the groundwork as far as the next generation is concerned.
The UAE may have swatted the Malaysians 10-0 in Abu Dhabi four years ago in Abu Dhabi but that was the distance past. The Whites were faced with a vibrant and spirted Malaysian side this time around and had to dig deep into their reserves. But their class showed in the end as marksman Ali Mabkhout's brace gave the UAE a 2-1 verdict in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
The early setback, conceding an early goal within 36 seconds, was perhaps expected, not just because they came into this fixture a bit undercooked. The UAE had played two friendlies against footballing lesser lights Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka in the run-up.
But more so because Marwijk, World Cup runner-up with his home country in 2010, put faith in youth, to go with the experienced players.
The amalgamation is still a work in progress as was seen at the Bukit Jalil Stadium but Marwijk is laying a blueprint for this World Cup qualification and beyond.
Having served the country for many years, Ismail Ahmed and Mohanad Salem, both defensive bulwarks, are no more in the scheme of things. And while Salem was overlooked for the AFC Asian Cup on home soil, Ahmed did play in that competition.
There comes a time when one has to go beyond emotions and with both the other side of 30, it may be the last that we may have seen of them in UAE colours. Marwijk has taken a few tough calls be it defence, midfield and attack, and is now preparing for the next stage.
Marwijk is trying to blood an exciting group of young players with a strong core at the centre of it. And as with any new project, there are bound to some errors.
But these young players will come back better from the experience. Marwijk, who also coached Saudi Arabia and Australia, said as much.
"We have seven very young players. It is not easy for them but they learnt a lot from this game. You can only learn by letting the young players play," said Marwijk.
"It is always difficult because the results are very important. I'm happy that the young players had a good performance at the end of the game," he added.

More news from Sports