National team squad meet up next week to prepare for the two must win matches.
UAE's 2018 World Cup qualifier with Iraq moved to Jordan
The UAE’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq next month has been moved from Iran to Jordan.
The September 5 fixture, the national team’s final Group B match, was originally slated for the PAS Stadium in Tehran, but the Iraq Football Association requested on Wednesday that it be changed.
Iraq, whose home qualifiers are not permitted at present to take place in their country, made the application to the Asian Football Confederation, with the UAE Football Association agreeing to play the fixture in Jordan instead.
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The FA are waiting to hear back from their Jordanian counterparts to discover which venue in Amman will act as host. The Amman International Stadium, which stages the Jordan national team’s matches, has been mooted.
The tie will round out the UAE’s faltering Group B campaign, and comes one week after Edgardo Bauza’s side take on Saudi Arabia at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Although still mathematically possible, the UAE’s chances of making only a second World Cup hang by a thread. They sit fourth in the standings, six points off the play-off spot with only two matches remaining,
To qualify, the UAE must take maximum points from the two fixtures and hope for other results to go in their favour, together with a huge swing in goal difference. The country’s sole showing at a World Cup came in 1990.
The UAE meet up in Al Ain on August 18 to begin preparations for their final two assignments. However, the Al Ain players will not join the squad until after their Asian Champions League quarter-final first leg against Saudi side Al Hilal on August 21.
With the political situation in Iraq as it is, their national team have been playing “home” qualifiers largely in Tehran, although they did host Saudi Arabia in Malaysia last September. In June, Iraq hosted a friendly in Basra against Jordan, although the ban has been lifted initially for a three-month probationary period and is not extended to competitive matches.