x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Algeria aiming to use UAE for World Cup boost

Katanec's men, coming off a victory over Moldova, are in 'great shape' to test themselves against World Cup opposition.

Srecko Katanec, left, the UAE manager, directs a team training session.
Srecko Katanec, left, the UAE manager, directs a team training session.

The UAE get a chance to test themselves against World Cup opposition tonight when they take on Algeria in Nuremburg, Germany. A stunning late winner from Ahmed Khalil gave the national side a 3-2 win over Moldova in Salzburg, Austria, last week, and they will be looking to overcome a bigger hurdle in their friendly against a side heading for South Africa.

Mohammed al Mansi, the assistant to Srecko Katanec, the coach, told the Football Association website: "We are building a team and already they have shown a lot of promise. "The game against Moldova was very useful for us to look at the team composition apart from the win. And the same will apply for our game against Algeria. It's true that we want to win, but we want also to test our players as well. It's going to be a very difficult encounter.

"The Algerians are looking to achieve a victory before they head for Johannesburg and it sure would be a good contest for our players, who are in great shape, both physically and mentally. There's something more too. We have noticed that the players are very close to each other, both on and off the pitch and this is something great. "At first, we were worried about the timing of the camp, but fortunately for us, everything has gone according to plan. We are all aware how difficult it is to hold a training camp immediately after the season.

"However, the players have lived up to the challenge and prepared themselves in the most ideal way for the upcoming commitments." The training camps in Austria and Germany are part of Katanec's preparations for the Gulf Cup in Yemen from November 22 to December 4 and the Asian Cup in Qatar from January 7 to 29. Katanec, the Slovenian, took charge of the team last year after their dismal performances in the World Cup qualifiers, in which they picked up just one point from eight games, and were eliminated in the group stage of the Gulf Cup, which they won when they hosted it in 2007.

Al Mansi felt the players were enjoying soaking up the pre-World Cup atmosphere with so many international friendlies being played near to where they have been based. "Most of the national teams which are taking part in the World Cup are camping during this period in Europe, and that was why we managed to bring the players together in this place at this particular time. "It is a good opportunity to get them soaked on to the training atmosphere of the other teams."

Algeria will want to wrap up their preparation with a morale-boosting victory to restore the team's confidence before they head to South Africa to play in Group C along with England, the USA and Slovenia. They went down 3-0 to Ireland last week and Rabah Saadane, the coach, has urged his players to pull up their socks for their final friendly. "Ireland are a formidable team, they were superior to us and deserved a place in the World Cup," he told RTE Sport. "We have our final game with the UAE and this will be another good test for the players. Obviously we'll be looking for a good result from this match to travel with a bit more confidence." @Email:apassela@thenational.ae