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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Edgardo Bauza names 30-man UAE squad for World Cup qualifying double-header

Al Wahda defender Ahmed Rashid and Baniyas winger Suhail Al Noubi the only two fresh additions with squad due to assemble in Al Ain on Friday.

Edgardo Bauza has named a 30-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Courtesy UAE FA
Edgardo Bauza has named a 30-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Courtesy UAE FA

UAE manager Edgardo Bauza has made minimal changes to his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The Argentine, installed as Mahdi Ali’s successor in May, named his initial 30-man group on Monday, with Al Wahda defender Ahmed Rashid and Baniyas winger Suhail Al Noubi the only two fresh additions.

Both impressed last month for the Under 23 side who failed to qualify for January’s 2018 AFC U23 Championship, although Al Jazira forward Ahmed Al Attas, who scored three goals in those qualifiers, is a surprise omission. Club teammate Khalfan Mubarak, who helped Jazira win the Arabian Gulf League last season and has featured regularly in senior team squads, was also left out.

The UAE meet in Al Ain on Friday as preparations ramp up for the twin assignment, which concludes their Group B campaign. They host Saudi Arabia at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on August 29 before travelling to Jordan five days later to get set for the match against Iraq on September 5.

READ MORE ON UAE'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

With only two matches remaining, the UAE sit fourth in the final stage of qualification for the World Cup, six points off a play-off place and requiring at least maximum points to have any chance of making Russia next summer. Even so, they need other results to go their way and for a huge swing in goal difference. At present, Saudi Arabia rank second in the standings, with Iraq one spot below the UAE, second from bottom.

Bauza began his reign with the 1-1 draw in June against bottom side Thailand – a match that needed an injury-time goal from Ali Mabkhout to save the UAE from defeat in Bangkok. It effectively ended the nation team’s chances of reaching only a second World Cup.

Bauza, a former Argentina national team manager, spent last week in Europe, where he attended the external training camps of UAE champions Al Jazira, the newly formed Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, and Al Nasr.

UAE squad in full

Khalid Essa, Mohammed Ahmed, Ismail Ahmed, Mohanad Salem, Ahmed Barman, Omar Abdulrahman, Mohamed Abdulrahman (Al Ain); Ali Khaseif, Mohammed Fawzi, Fares Juma, Ahmed Khalil, Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira); Majed Nasser, Abdulaziz Haikal, Abdulaziz Sanqour, Mohammed Marzouq, Walid Abbas, Khamis Esmail, Hassan Ibrahim, Habib Fardan (Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club); Ahmed Shambieh, Mahmoud Khamis, Tariq Ahmed, Salem Saleh (Al Nasr); Ahmed Rashid, Tariq Ahmed, Khaled Bawazir, Mohammed Al Akbari, Ismail Matar (Al Wahda); Suhail Al Noubi (Baniyas)