Dutch supremo Bert van Marwijk’s UAE reign has got off to a dispiriting start after it was confirmed pivotal attackers Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout will not be present at his first training camp.
Sunday witnessed the beginning, in earnest, of the Whites’ nine-day get together in Salzburg, Austria. This spell provides both an introduction to the beaten World Cup 2010 finalist’s vaunted methods and a means for him to assess options ahead of September’s commencement of World Cup 2022 qualifying.
A trio of call-ups, however, were missing from the original 27-man roster selected in late May. 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman has still not proven his fitness after October’s serious knee injury incurred with Saudi Professional League heavyweights Al Hilal, while 2015 Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout and youthful Al Jazira team-mate Zayed Al Ameri also aren’t in attendance.
“Omar Abdulrahman is absent from this team camp. Ali Mabkhout is missing because of special circumstances and Zayed Al Ameri did not join the internal gathering in Dubai,” a UAE Football Association statement read.
“The list is free of Al Wahda players, who are preparing for the 2019 AFC Champions League round-of-16 clash with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.”
The Whites are also eagerly awaiting Wednesday’s second-round draw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They will then find out their opening opponents on September 5 and September 10, with a second camp – at a yet-to-be-decided location – set to get going on August 24.
Van Marwijk, 67, has been challenged to secure a second-ever qualification for the 1990 finalists. He was appointed in March on a four-year deal as successor to bemoaned Italian Alberto Zaccheroni.
Bani Yas’ extensive and ambitious summer rebuild has continued apace with the capture of South Africa playmaker Ayanda Patosi on a one-season loan deal from Cape Town City.
Patosi, 26, excelled during the first half of the year at Iran giants Esteghlal. His four goals and seven assists from 19 appearances under Winfried Schafer, 69, saw the German coach aggressively pursue a reunion upon arrival in Abu Dhabi.
The exciting new addition – for whom a permanent option has been negotiated – twice claimed the Belgium Cup at Lokeren from 2011-17, before returning home to CTC.
A superb sixth-placed finish was secured in 2018/19 by the Sky Blues upon their return to the Arabian Gulf League. But they could not agree a new contract with Croatian tactician Krunoslav Jurcic, leading to a situation where only prolific Spanish striker Pedro Conde is expected to be retained from the four-player foreign quota.
Superb Brazilian defensive midfielder Luis Antonio, 28, was procured from Saudi Professional League-outfit Al Shabab earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Chile midfielder Esteban Pavez departed for Al Nasr on Sunday and admitted it “hurts” to leave Colo-Colo.
A $2.1 million deal has been agreed to bring the Copa America star to Al Maktoum Stadium.
“It hurts me to leave Colo-Colo, because it’s a club that I love, but I have to watch over my future,” he told La Tercera. “I’m 29-years old.”
Sweden striker Marcus Berg has joined Russia’s FC Krasnodar on a one-year deal after a sorry end to his Al Ain career.
Dutch veteran Bert van Marwijk’s UAE reign began in earnest on Saturday when his first squad departed to Austria for a pivotal nine-day training camp ahead of World Cup 2022 qualifiers kicking off in September.
A much-changed 27-man roster was announced at the end of May by the 67-year-old, whose extensive coaching resume includes assuring in 2017 that Saudi Arabia’s 12-year absence from the global tournament was at an end and guiding his native Netherlands to defeat in the 2010 showpiece. Celebrated 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman was absent from the group that took off from Dubai Airport.
The playmaker, however, has been in Lienz, Austria with Saudi Professional League giants Al Hilal and was reported last week to have received the medical all-clear in Barcelona, Spain from renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat after October’s serious knee injury. That blow ruled him out of January’s Asian Cup on home soil.
Uncapped players in the original announcement included Al Ain’s summer buy Mohammed Ali Shaker, versatile Al Jazira youngster Mohammed Al Attas and prodigious Al Wasl forward Ali Saleh. The Whites – whose only World Cup showing came in 1990 – will also congregate from August 24-September 10, a period that includes their opening qualifiers on September 5 and 10.
Opponents for the second round in the elongated AFC process will be revealed in Wednesday’s group-stage draw.
Van Marwijk has been denied the presence of his Al Wahda contingent because they are preparing in the Netherlands for next month’s 2019 AFC Champions League round-of-16 double-header against SPL champions Al Nassr.
A concurrent training camp for the UAE Under-23s is being held in close proximity in Salzburg. The starlets are getting set for January’s AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand, the final round of qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
UAE TRAINING SQUAD
Khalid Essa, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Mohammed Ali Shaker, Ahmed Barman, Ryan Yaslam, (Al Ain); Hassan Al Muharrami, Fahad Al Dhahani (Bani Yas); Omar Abdulrahman (Al Hilal); Ali Khaseif, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Mohammed Al Attas, Salem Rashed, Khalfan Mubarak, Zayed Al Ameri, Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira); Habib Fardan, Tariq Ahmed, Mohamed Al Akbari (Al Nasr); Walid Abbas, Majed Hassan, Ismail Al Hammadi, Ahmed Khalil (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club); Adel Al Hosani, Majed Suroor, Ali Hassan Saleh (Sharjah); Ali Saleh, Ali Salmeen (Al Wasl)