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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Fresh faces called up in absence of star names as Alberto Zaccheroni names UAE squad

Former Asian players of the year Omar Abdulrahman and Ahmed Khalil miss out through injury and fitness problems

Alberto Zaccheroni has named his squad for the UAE's two-week training camp ahead of friendly matches against Bolivia and Egypt. AFP
Alberto Zaccheroni has named his squad for the UAE's two-week training camp ahead of friendly matches against Bolivia and Egypt. AFP

UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni has named his squad for this month’s training camp, with a few new faces hoping to stake their claim for a place at the 2019 Asian Cup.

The national side, hosts of the expanded 24-team event from January 5-February 1, will meet in Dubai on Tuesday to begin a two-week get-together.

The UAE take on Bolivia in a friendly in Dubai on November 16, before the camp culminates four days later with the marquee friendly against Egypt in Abu Dhabi.

Zaccheroni retained a core of players from the most recent camp last month, although Omar Abdulrahman represents a high-profile absentee following his recent knee injury and subsequent surgery. The Al Hilal playmaker, the 2016 Asian Player of the Year, will miss the entire Asian Cup as he continues his long road to recovery. Ahmed Khalil, who preceded Abdulrahman as Asian Player of the Year, also misses out because of persistent problems with injury and fitness.

However, there have been first-time call-ups for Al Jazira forward Zayed Al Ameri and Sharjah midfielder Majid Surour, two members of the UAE side who sealed bronze at the Asian Games in September, while goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi and defender Ahmed Rashed were also part of that success in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Al Nasr trio Ahmed Al Yassi, Tariq Ahmed and Mohammed Al Akbari all return, as does experienced defender Walid Abbas. Al Dhafra forward Saeed Jassim had made his second first-team squad.

The UAE will begin the camp - the fourth of five in the build-up to the Asian Cup - with a training session on Tuesday night at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex. The tournament, the continent’s showpiece football event, will held in the Emirates for only the second time, with the UAE drawn in Group A alongside Bahrain, India and Thailand.

The national team kick off the tournament against their Gulf neighbours on January 5 at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.

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