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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

UAE add Bolivia to friendly schedule ahead of 2019 Asian Cup

Zaccheroni’s squad gather in Dubai this week for a two-week camp ahead of November matches against Bolivia and Egypt

UAE, in red, have had a positive build-up to their Asian Cup campaign so far, including a draw against Honduras. AFP
UAE, in red, have had a positive build-up to their Asian Cup campaign so far, including a draw against Honduras. AFP

The UAE will play Bolivia as well as Egypt this month in preparation for the 2019 Asian Cup on home soil.

The friendlies, to take place on November 16 and 20 respectively, will form part of the national team’s penultimate training camp ahead of the January 5-February 1 event, staged in the Emirates for only the second time.

The match against Egypt was announced last month, and looks set to be played at the refurbished Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. However, the UAE will first take on Bolivia four days earlier in Dubai, most probably at the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium, formerly home to Al Shabab.

On Tuesday, Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad will gather in Dubai to begin a two-week camp – the fourth of five in the build-up to the Asian Cup – with the Egypt encounter bringing the get-together to a close.

Both friendlies are designed to offer a significant test ahead of the Asian Cup, as the UAE seek to provide the platform for a strong showing at the continent’s premier football tournament.

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Ranked 22 places higher than the UAE by Fifa at 59th in the current standings, Bolivia struggled throughout qualification for the 2018 World Cup and eventually finished ninth of 10 teams in the Conmebol section. Last month, they were defeated 2-1 in a friendly against Iran in Tehran.

Egypt, meanwhile, have already qualified for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, but before meeting the UAE will face Tunisia in a qualifier in Alexandria on November 16. They will then travel to the Emirates.

The match is expected to attract considerable interest, given the large Egyptian presence in the UAE and the relationship between the two countries. Egypt contested this summer’s World Cup – their first appearance at the global finals in 28 years – but exited at the group stage. They are now managed by Javier Aguirre, the former Al Wahda manager.

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