Al Wahda defender Ahmed Rashid and winger Suhail Al Noubi of relegated Bani Yas were the only new faces selected on Monday by UAE coach Edgardo Bauza for a predictable 30-man squad, which faces a mission impossible in the imminent finale to World Cup 2018 qualifying.
The Whites critically sit fourth in Group B for the third-and-final stage, six points and one place outside the progression spots. They must hammer third-place Saudi Arabia in Al Ain on August 29 and eliminated Iraq in Amman, Jordan on September 5 to hold a slim chance of contesting for the inter-confederation play-off, on goal difference.
Despite the parlous situation caused by June 13’s 1-1 draw on debut in Thailand, the recently-dismissed Argentina coach has resisted calls to widely raid the youth ranks.
Rashid, 20, and Al Noubi, 21, both impressed when the junior Whites last month failed to make the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship. But Al Jazira forward Ahmed Al Attas, 21, was overlooked despite then scoring three goals in three games.
Another surprise absentee from the Pride of Abu Dhabi was electric playmaker Khalfan Mubarak. The 22-year-old was an unused substitute in Bangkok under El Paton.
Al Ain’s players have been excused from meeting up with the rest of the squad on Friday in the Garden City because of Monday’s 2017 AFC Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Riyadh giants Al Hilal.
Khalid Essa, Mohammed Ahmed, Ismail Ahmed, Mohaned Salem, Ahmed Barman, Omar Abdulrahman, Mohamed Abdulrahman (Al Ain); Suhail Al Noubi (Bani Yas); Ali Khaseif, Mohammed Fawzi, Fares Juma, Ahmed Khalil, Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira); Ahmed Shambieh, Mahmoud Khamis, Tariq Ahmed, Salem Saleh (Al Nasr); Majed Nasser, Abdulaziz Haikal, Mohammed Marzouq, Walid Abbas, Abdulaziz Sanqour, Khamis Esmail, Hassan Ibrahim, Habib Fardan (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club); Ahmed Rashid, Tariq Ahmed, Khaled Bawazir, Mohamed Al Akbari, Ismail Matar (Al Wahda)
World Cup 2018 qualifiers
20:30 UAE v Saudi Arabia
16:10 Iraq v UAE