x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hectic schedule for Mahdi Ali's youngsters

Khamis Esmail, the Emirati midfielder, realises that the UAE are not expected to survive the group stages.

The UAE Olympic team will play seven friendlies while training at camps in Switzerland and Austria over the next five weeks, and the crowded fixtures list is designed to replicate the frequency of matches at London 2012.

Mahdi Ali, the UAE coach, said his team would play on June 28, July 1, July 5, July 8, July 11, July 16 and July 19. He declined to identify the opponents.

The 25 players from whom a team of 18 will be drawn, along with four alternates, will have medicals in Dubai tomorrow, and the UAE travelling party will leave for Switzerland on Saturday.

On July 3, the group will shift their base to Austria, and on July 21 the team will fly to Manchester ahead of the July 26 opener against Uruguay at Old Trafford. The other first-round games are with Great Britain at Wembley on July 29, and with Senegal at Coventry on August 1.

Khamis Esmail, the Emirati midfielder, realises that the UAE are not expected to survive the group stages.

"It's better when people say we will go out of the group because this is less pressure for us and we can make a big surprise when we will be one of the two teams to go to the next stage," he said.

"We want to show the people that we are not there only to participate and go for three matches and come back. No, we want more."

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