Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Ahmed Khalil returns to UAE squad for World Cup qualification double-header

Bert van Marwijk gets additional options for matches against Indonesia and Thailand, with Omar Abdulrahman called up as well

UAE's Ahmed Khalil, left. Associated Press
UAE's Ahmed Khalil, left. Associated Press

Ahmed Khalil has returned to the UAE squad for this month’s World Cup qualification double-header against Indonesia and Thailand.

The Shabab Al Ahli Dubai striker, one of the national team’s most prominent players, missed last month’s opening Group G match against Malaysia because of personal reasons. The UAE came from behind to the tie 2-1 – their first competitive outing with new manager Bert van Marwjik in charge.

However, Khalil has been reinstated for the fixtures against Indonesia and Thailand, giving Van Marwijk additional options up front alongside regular frontman Ali Mabkhout, scorer of both goals in Kuala Lumpur. Omar Abdulrahman, the 2016 Asian player of the year, has again been called up as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.

The UAE host Indonesia at Dubai’s Al Maktoum Stadium on October 10 before taking on Thailand in Bangkok five days later.

Asia’s player of the year in 2015, Khalil has often played an important role for the UAE. Most recently, he scored twice at the 2019 Asian Cup, held in the UAE in January, including the winner in extra-time in the last-16 clash against Kyrgyzstan. This season, Khalil has made three substitute appearances for Shabab Al Ahli.

Van Marwijk’s latest squad is dominated by Al Jazira players, their nine-strong contingent highlighted by Abdulrahman and Mabkhout, although there is a first call-up for promising midfielder Abdullah Ramadan. Teammate Khalfan Mubarak, meanwhile, also returns.

The group will gather in Dubai on Saturday, once this week’s Arabian Gulf League fixtures are complete. They will train for four days at Al Wasl’s Zabeel Stadium before moving to Al Maktoum Stadium, home of Al Nasr.

Tickets for the Indonesia qualifier, starting at Dh20, went on sale on Wednesday.

Updated: October 4, 2019 05:46 AM

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