AL AIN // The UAE coach Dominique Bathenay will get to see his revamped squad in action for the first time when they face Iraq at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Qattara. It is the first of the two friendlies for Bathenay's players before they head to Oman next week to begin their defence of the Gulf Cup. And the Frenchman said, "These two games are really important for us. We need to find the right combinations and work on the areas in which we need to improve from these two matches. "I would like to try out as many players as possible, now that we have some new players drafted into the squad. We are playing Iraq and Kuwait and I would like to think they are real matches as they too have come with the same purpose."
Bathenay has not named name his line-up but is expected to field both Mohammed Omar and Abdulasalam Jumaa, who were coaxed out of international retirement with a recall to the squad. Jorvan Vieira, the Brazilian coach of Iraq, shared Bathenay's sentiments. He added: "I have found it very difficult to get all my players together and this game will be the first time they have all got together in a long time."
The UAE will play Kuwait at the Al Nasr club's Al Maktoum Stadium on Tuesday before they fly to Oman on Jan 2. They are in Group B at the Gulf Cup alongside Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen, who they play in the second day of the competition on Jan 5. firstname.lastname@example.org