Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Omar Abdulrahman could return for UAE's opening 2022 World Cup qualifier against Malaysia

Al Jazira playmaker played 20 minutes in team’s 5-1 victory in the friendly against Sri Lanka in Bahrain on Saturday

Omar Abdulrahman, right, in action for the UAE in their friendly victory against Sri Lanka in Bahrain. UAE FA
Omar Abdulrahman, right, in action for the UAE in their friendly victory against Sri Lanka in Bahrain. UAE FA

Omar Abdulrahman could be available for the UAE’s 2022 World Cup qualification opener next week after making his national team return on Saturday.

The Al Jazira playmaker, the 2016 Asian player of the year, played 20 minutes in the side’s 5-1 victory in the friendly against Sri Lanka in Bahrain. It marked his first appearance for the national team since last October.

Abdulrahman, who turns 28 this month, had not been expected to feature in the Group G opener against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on September 10 as he seeks to return to full fitness following serious injury late last year.

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Then representing Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, the midfielder sustained a knee injury during the Saudi Pro League match against Al Shabab Riyadh on October and later underwent surgery on the torn anterior cruciate ligament. He has not played a competitive fixture since, and missed the 2019 Asian Cup earlier this year, which took place in the Emirates.

Abdulrahman was included initially in new manager Bert van Marwijk’s first squad for a training camp in Austria in July, but did not take part as he conducted medical tests to prove his recovery from injury.

An extension to his one-year contract at Hilal had been mooted all summer, and also a return to former club Al Ain, however he signed last month for Jazira on a free transfer.

Abdulrahman has impressed during the UAE’s recent camp in Bahrain, in which they registered straightforward victories at the weekend against the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka. There is growing confidence within the coaching staff that he could play some part in Malaysia.

The national team begin their quest next week for a second World Cup appearance - and first since 1990 - and have been drawn in Group G alongside Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Only the top team is guaranteed to progress to the third and final stage of qualification.

The UAE returned from Bahrain on Sunday and will travel to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Updated: September 1, 2019 05:14 PM

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