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UAE coach Marwijk confident young players will step up

The shot stoppers: UAE goalkeepers Ali Khaseif (left) and Adel Al Hosani during a training session. — UAEFA Twitter
The shot stoppers: UAE goalkeepers Ali Khaseif (left) and Adel Al Hosani during a training session. — UAEFA Twitter

Dubai - The Whites aspire to tighten their grip on third place in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers when they welcome Syria to the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai



By Team KT

Published: Wed 26 Jan 2022, 11:41 PM

UAE coach Bert van Marwijk is confident that the young players will step up and give a good account of themselves when they take on Syria in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Thursday night.

The Whites aspire to tighten their grip on third place in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers when they welcome Syria to the Al Maktoum Stadium.

A mixed campaign for Marwijk’s men saw them start with three draws in their first four fixtures before falling to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Korea Republic and bouncing back with their first win of the group away at Lebanon thanks to a late Ali Mabkhout penalty to put them third with six points.

While one of the two direct tickets to Qatar 2022 is still mathematically possible, the eight-point gap between them and second-placed Korea Republic means UAE’s focus will be on consolidating third spot which they currently occupy with a one-point margin ahead of Lebanon and two ahead of Iraq.

The UAE are without marksman Ali Ahmed Mabkhout, who has scored three of the side’s four goals in the group. The UAE’s struggles are compounded by injuries to attacking midfielders Fabio Lima and Khalfan Mubarak, while veteran Sebastian Tagliabue has trained with the team as he returns from injury. Attacking full-back Bandar Al Ahbabi misses out through suspension.

A mistake from goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma had allowed Mabkhout to open the scoring for the UAE before Mahmoud Al Baher’s half volley equaliser for Syria in the second half as the two sides shared the spoils in Amman when they last faced in the reverse fixture back in September.

Despite the absences, the Dutchman was delighted by the good energy shown by the young players. “I am happy with the group that I work with at the moment. We are working together to achieve the desired goal,” Marwjik said at the pre-match press briefing on Wednesday.

“Many players are missing, especially on the attacking front but we have young players who are able to compensate. We have great confidence in their ability. We just have to focus and play strongly,” added Marwjik.

Having reached the play-off against Australia last time around, Syria have disappointed this term, finding themselves bottom of the group and without a win in six games. (With inputs from AFC website)


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