The UAE players will get another chance to stake their places in Bert van Marwijk’s future plans when they meet depleted Syria.
Van Marwijk, 66, was confirmed as successor to Alberto Zaccheroni last Wednesday and was in the stands at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium 24 hours later to witness a come-from-behind, 2-1 friendly win against former employers Saudi Arabia.
The 2010 World Cup finalists with his native Netherlands is also expected to be in attendance for Tuesday’s second – and final – clash of this international break at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
Star attackers Omar Khrbin, of Egypt’s Pyramids FC, and Omar Al Somah, of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli Jeddah, will both be absent for the visitors to Abu Dhabi. This has not, however, stopped caretaker boss Saleem Abdulrahman from reiterating the importance of this phase for a nation that is still recovering from a harrowing semi-final exit on home soil at January’s Asian Cup.
He said: “We are seeking to win the trust of our fans, restore confidence and cheer up the players. This is especially true for the young players, who join the team for the first time.
“We intend to continue with big enthusiasm for the second friendly against Syria on Tuesday.”
Al Ain right-back Bandar Al Ahbabi and Al Jazira predator Ali Mabkhout got the goals in nine second-half minutes to defeat a second-string – at best – Saudi Arabia.
The UAE will again be without their sizeable Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club and Al Wahda contingent because of last Friday’s Arabian Gulf Cup final, plus their brightest young talents because of ongoing AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers.
This could see continued opportunities for the likes of Al Nasr midfielder Habib Fardan. The 28-year-old started, against the Saudis, for the first time since August 2016.
UAE: Essa; Sal. Rashid, Abdulrahman, Saeed, Saleh; Salmeen, Fardan; Sai. Rashid, Yaslam, Khalfan; Mabkhout
Syria: Alma; Jenyat, O. Midani, Al Salih, Somi; Al Mawas, Haj. Mohamad, Z. Midani, Kalfa; Al Khatib; Al Wakid
Kick-off: 17:45; Stadium: Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium; Live Tuesday on: Abu Dhabi Sports HD
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