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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

UAE face Bolivia in need of a win to relieve pressure on manager Alberto Zaccheroni

Italian has presided over just one win in last eight matches as preparations for 2019 Asian Cup ramp up

Alberto Zaccheroni's UAE side take on Bolivia on Friday before facing Yemen in Dubai next Tuesday. UAE FA
Alberto Zaccheroni's UAE side take on Bolivia on Friday before facing Yemen in Dubai next Tuesday. UAE FA

Alberto Zaccheroni will continue to experiment with his new-look UAE squad when they meet Bolivia in an international friendly at the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Friday.

The Italian is forced to try out new combinations with injuries to several key players, most notably striker Ahmed Khalil and playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, who is almost certainly ruled out of the 2019 the Asian Cup, to be held in the Emirates, after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month.

Zaccheroni called up four players - Zayed Al Ameri, Majid Surour, Ahmed Rashed and Mohammed Al Shamsifrom - from UAE Under 23 squad that clinched a bronze medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta in September for a two-week training camp that will culminate with a friendly against fellow Asian Cup finalists Yemen in Dubai next Tuesday.

The UAE have won only one of their last eight fixtures, against Laos, ranked 181 by Fifa, and Zaccheroni is under pressure to improve results ahead of the January 5-February 1 Asian Cup to be held in the country for only the second time.

Obaid Habita, the team manager, is confident the team will raise their game against Bolivia, who are ranked 22 places higher than the UAE in the Fifa ranking at 59.

“We are coming off a camp that has gone as planned and the players are very keen to give out their best,” Habita said.

“Like everyone else, the players want to return with a good result. The technical staff has done their part and we’ll see how they fare against Bolivia.

"I’m sure they will do well with the kind of positive vibes they have shown us during the camp and a good programme. Bolivia are strong opponents but we are ready for them.”

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