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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Alberto Zaccheroni names first UAE squad for Haiti and Uzbekistan friendlies

Italian took charge of the national team last month and has begun preparations for the 2019 Asian Cup.

Alberto Zaccheroni  was present last Saturday for the Super Cup in to watch Al Wahda defeat UAE champions Al Ain on penalties. UAE FA
Alberto Zaccheroni  was present last Saturday for the Super Cup in to watch Al Wahda defeat UAE champions Al Ain on penalties. UAE FA

Alberto Zaccheroni has named his first squad as UAE manager, with Al Jazira’s Mohammed Jamal and Al Wasl’s Ali Salmeen called into the national set-up for this month’s friendlies with Haiti and Uzbekistan.

The Italian, appointed last month on an initial 16-month contract, has selected a largely similar group to predecessor Edgardo Bauza, although the inclusion of midfielders Jamal and Salmeen will be welcomed.

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Both players have excelled recently for their respective clubs, with Jamal playing an integral role in Jazira winning last season’s Arabian Gulf League - their first top-flight title in six years. Salmeen, meanwhile, has helped Wasl begin the 2017/18 campaign in fine fashion.

Other notable inclusions in the 24-man group include Jazira’s Khalfan Mubarak and Al Ain’s Amer Abdulrahman. The latter, a regular starter for the UAE during Mahdi Ali’s reign, has only recently returned from a lengthy injury.

Zaccheroni will meet the squad for the first time in Al Ain on Sunday, with his first match to be played against Haiti at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Friday. Egypt were expected to represent the UAE’s opponents for that slot, however the match with the World Cup qualifiers was cancelled this week.

The UAE will be bolstered by the inclusion of Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout. Both players have been sidelined for their respective clubs, Al Ain and Al Jazira, but have been passed fit to train with the national team. Abdulrahman is the reigning Asian player of the year, while Mabkhout finished last season as the Arabian Gulf League’s top goalscorer.

Another seven regular internationals will also meet with Zaccheroni on Sunday, including Ahmed Khalil, Ismail Matar, Majed Hassan, Ismail Al Hammadi and Hamdan Al Kamali, but they will take no part in the camp since they remain injured.

The match against Uzbekistan, also to take place at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, will round off the camp on November 14.

Zaccheroni, who led Japan to the Asian Cup in 2011, is the UAE’s second manager since long-term coach Mahdi Ali resigned in March. Bauza was installed in May, but left to join Saudi Arabia in September after only three competitive matches in charge. During that time, the UAE failed to qualify for next summer’s World Cup.

Zaccheroni's contract runs until the 2019 Asian Cup, which will be staged in the Emirates.