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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

New UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni to meet with FA to finalise plans for November friendlies

Italian to get a first glimpse of his squad close up, with matches against Egypt and Uzbekistan expected

New UAE football manager Alberto Zaccheroni is introduced to the media at the FA's headquarters in Dubai on October 17. Chris Whiteoak / The National
New UAE football manager Alberto Zaccheroni is introduced to the media at the FA's headquarters in Dubai on October 17. Chris Whiteoak / The National

New UAE manager Alberto Zaccheroni will meet with the Football Association this week to discuss preparations for the 2019 Asian Cup, including finalising plans for the team’s friendlies to be played next month.

The Italian, 64, was appointed earlier this month as Edgardo Bauza’s successor and given a 16-month contract through to the conclusion of the Asian Cup. The continental showpiece takes place in the Emirates in early 2019.

The UAE are expected to play two home friendlies during the next international break, with World Cup qualifiers Egypt and fellow Asians Uzbekistan their anticipated opponents. Once confirmed, the Egypt fixture will take place on November 9 at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, with Uzbekistan five days later at another venue. The Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, also in Al Ain, has been mooted.

The matches will provide Zaccheroni a first look at his squad at close quarters, although he has attended a selection of Arabian Gulf League (AGL) matches since his appointment. On Saturday, he was present at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium as Al Ain drew 3-3 with Sharjah.

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The squad, which could be named this week, will be without several key players, though, with Omar Abdulrahman, Ali Mabkhout, Ahmed Khalil and Ismail Matar likely to miss out through injury. The UAE players are expected to meet up on November 6, following the next round of AGL fixtures.

Zaccheroni and the FA will this week talk through several other issues, such as the amount of time and dates for international gatherings between now and the Asian Cup, the matches to be played during that period and a potential camp to take place outside the UAE next summer.

A former manager of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Lazio and Juventus among others, Zaccheroni guided Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2011. The UAE’s best finish to date is their runner-up spot in 1996, the only other time the tournament has taken place on home soil.

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