An “anxious” Bert van Marwijk is set to study the weather forecast as torrential rain threatens to dampen the UAE’s bright start in World Cup 2022 qualifying.
Heavy downpours, caused by an incoming high-pressure system, has created flooding across Thailand ahead of Tuesday’s vital second-round clash. Sodden turf at Rangsit’s Thammasat Stadium also forced the UAE to abort Monday evening’s final training session and complete it on an adjoining pitch.
Beaten World Cup 2010 finalist Van Marwijk, 67, must ensure these distractions do not hamper the Group G-leaders, who boast a perfect two wins from two games, at their second-placed rivals.
He said: “The preparation went well. But what I’m anxious about is the condition of the pitch because of the rain.
“Is the pitch used to this? Is the pitch okay for tomorrow?
“As for preparation, it’s like every game. But we don’t underestimate the Thai national team – this is because we are considered the strongest teams in the group.”
Successive 1-1 stalemates recorded against the Thais effectively ended hopes of making the last World Cup in June 2017, plus rounded out an unconvincing group-stage performance in January 2019’s Asian Cup for the eventual semi-finalists.
The UAE, though, now face a side who drew their previous home qualifier against Vietnam. Injury has also denied them the services of influential J1 League midfielders Chanathip Songkrasin and Thitiphan Puangchan.
“The UAE is one of the leading teams in Asia and I think this is a good opportunity to evaluate our team,” said War Elephants boss Akira Nishino.
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