UAE boss Bert van Marwijk expects continued waiting game with Omar Abdulrahman

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(Twitter/@uaent2019).

UAE boss Bert van Marwijk has admitted hopes about the speed of star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman’s rehabilitation have not been met ahead of another likely substitute role in Thursday’s World Cup 2022 qualifier against Indonesia at Al Maktoum Stadium.

Amoory, 28, has been carefully utilised by new employers Al Jazira in the wake of October 2018’s serious knee injury with Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. But the 2016 AFC Player of the Year has retained his berth in a UAE squad aiming to improve on last month’s difficult 2-1 opening win at Malaysia in the second round’s Group G.

“He’s [Amoory] an exceptionally good player, you see that every moment you work with him,” said Van Marwijk, who also has 2015 AFC POY Ahmed Khalil back in the fold after issues of his own.

“We were on training camp with him in Bahrain [in August]. We had to be very, very careful.

“We had contact with his club every day and I think we brought him further and further. And then afterwards I hoped he would play more at his club, but he played only maybe 15, 20 minutes in one game, played once maybe 60 minutes.

“He’s getting fitter and fitter. And I’m happy – he’s maybe 90 per cent.”

Opponents Indonesia have lost both qualifiers, to neighbours Malaysia and Thailand. But boss Simon McMenemy believed the UAE’s transition away from a failed ‘Golden Generation’ provided fresh opportunity.

He said: “I show a huge amount of respect for anyone prepared to do this job.

“With that said, the UAE are going through a transition. They have a new coach coming in, with a very good CV and history.

“I am sure he is pushing the team in the right direction.

“We are the underdogs, but we have our strategy to stick to.”

Indonesia are ranked 167th to the UAE’s 66th by FIFA, plus were banned for 2018 qualifying.

This did not prevent a careful Van Marwijk from expecting an “unpredictable” opponent in Dubai.

“Indonesia is a team you can expect everything,” the 67-year-old said. “They are very emotional in the game, they have some fast players, creative players, they are unpredictable.

“So, it’s not easy. The most important thing is that we have to be ourselves and play our game.”

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