Bert van Marwijk will oversee his opening home World Cup 2022 qualifier on Thursday when the UAE host floundering Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium.
The Whites – playing their first competitive match in Dubai since November 2011 – are keen to build on an exciting 2-1 win in Malaysia when the second round kicked off.
Opponents Indonesia have experienced a brutal return after World Cup 2018’s ban, conceding a 97th-minute winner to bitter rivals Malaysia – amid riotous scenes at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium – and being dismissed 3-0 by Thailand. They must conjure a surprise against hosts ranked 66th by FIFA, 101 places above them.
The extent of Amoory’s horrific knee injury has been laid bare.
When the 28-year-old crown prince of UAE football was, surprisingly, returned to the country by Al Jazira this August, an ebullient present at Al Ain was expected to instantly comeback. The trauma, however, from October 2018’s torn ligaments suffered at boyhood club Al Hilal, of Saudi Arabia, has clearly left its mark.
To date, no goals or assists have been recorded from one Arab Club Champions Cup start and three top-flight cameos. This gentle reintroduction was replicated with the UAE and a calming second-half run-out in Malaysia.
Expect to witness Van Marwijk – who labelled Amoory as “90 per cent” fit pre-match – offer decent second-half minutes against lowly Indonesia. Pass this test and a return to the XI may await at Thailand, in the section’s toughest tie, on Tuesday.
ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT?
There was true bravery and genuine haste apparent in Van Marwijk’s opening competitive selection.
A quartet of Under-23 players took to the field against Malaysia, with 26-year-old Al Wahda midfielder Khalil Ibrahim also earning a first competitive cap. This evidenced a coach patently aware of the pressing need to enact generational change.
كُلنا خلف الأبيض في مباراته أمام منتخب إندونيسيا يوم الخميس الموافق 10 أكتوبر بإستاد آل مكتوم بنادي النصر الساعة 8 مساء ضمن التصفيات المشتركة المؤهلة إلى نهائيات كأس العالم 2022 ونهائيات كأس آسيا 2023 ..#منتخب_الإمارات#تصفيات_كأس_العالم #الإمارات_إندونيسيا pic.twitter.com/FAfNElkV1B— UAEFA (@uaefa_ae) October 6, 2019
This speed, however, almost backfired in a game from which the ramshackle Whites conceded within a minute.
Van Marwijk, as a World Cup 2010 finalist, will retain his convictions. But do not be surprised to see Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s Walid Abbas, 34, move inside from left-back, while Al Ain’s Bandar Al Ahbabi, 29, looks set for right wing.
IN NEED OF AN UPSET
A different kind of pressure is at play for Indonesia.
Coach Simon McMenemy anticipated a formative experience in Dubai for a team looking to “improve as a nation and improve our football” after being banned through the previous global process.
Wounds were opened in the Malaysia collapse and the Englishman’s squad has been tweaked. Will a potential benching of captain and goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa avert, or induce, a massacre?
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