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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Edgardo Bauza returns to UAE ahead of 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia

Argentine will be back in the Emirates on Sunday, before meeting with the FA to discuss next month's must-win World Cup match.

Edgardo Bauza will prepare the UAE for their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia. Courtesy UAE FA
Edgardo Bauza will prepare the UAE for their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia. Courtesy UAE FA

Edgardo Bauza will arrive in the UAE on Sunday to finalise preparations for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

The Argentine, whose reign began with a disappointing 1-1 draw to Thailand last month, returned to his homeland shortly following the match in Bangkok to resolve any outstanding issues before completing his move to the Emirates.

He will be present in Al Ain on Monday as the UAE Under-23s take on Lebanon in the second match of their 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers. Bauza’s family will join the former Argentina national team manager in the UAE shortly thereafter.

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Once here, Bauza will meet with the Football Association to discuss the schedule for the build-up to the Saudi encounter on August 29. The match takes place at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. It is yet to be determined whether the national team will convene in Spain for a brief camp beforehand, although confirmation is expected within the coming days.

The UAE’s hopes of making next year’s World Cup are almost over. The draw in Thailand left the team fourth in Group B in the final stage of qualification, six points off the play-off spot with two matches remaining.

As it stands, the UAE must defeat Saudi at home and Iraq away seven days later, while also hoping for a huge swing in goal difference. The UAE have only once previously qualified for a World Cup, in 1990.

With a place in Russia looking highly unlikely, Bauza will soon turn his attention to the Gulf Cup of Nations, supposed to take place in Qatar later this year, and then the 2019 Asian Cup, which the Emirates will host.

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