x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Katanec looking for signs against India

The Indian team is preparing hard for the Asian Cup in Qatar where UAE too are competing but are focusing more on the Club World Cup and Olympics.

Srecko Katanec, right, the UAE coach, will be without many members of his first-team squad for the Gulf Cup in Yemen.
Srecko Katanec, right, the UAE coach, will be without many members of his first-team squad for the Gulf Cup in Yemen.

Srecko Katanec, the UAE coach, will run the rule over his depleted national squad one final time tonight when his side take on India in their final game before departing for the Gulf Cup in Yemen.

The Football Association has long made it clear that it had two priorities for the latter part of this year: making sure the Olympic team is well-prepared when qualifying for the 2012 Games in London begins; and seeing Al Wahda, the Pro League champions, restore national pride in the Club World Cup, to be played in Abu Dhabi from December 8-18, after Al Ahli's disappointing performance last year.

Katanec has been told no players from the Olympic team - who are currently competing for a medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China - or Wahda, who will whisk their players away for a week-long training camp in Egypt ahead of the Club World Cup, could be considered for selection for the Gulf Cup, which begins on Monday and runs through December 4.

Their opponents at the Al Wasl Stadium in Dubai at 6.45 tonight are an Indian side who would like to take a leap forward when they play in the Asian Cup, in Qatar, next month. They are on a month-long training camp in Dubai.

This is their third game on tour after losing 2-0 to Iraq in Sharjah last week and 9-1 to Kuwait in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

India are ranked No 144 in the world, 45 slots behind the UAE. "India have reached the Asian Cup after a long time and a lot of emphasis has been placed on the team's preparation," said Raul Fernandez, managing director of Gulf International Promotions in Dubai, who are coordinating the team's stay in the emirate.

"They spent two months in Portugal in June and July, and now a month in Dubai." He said India will travel to Qatar on December 7, a month ahead of the Asian Cup.

"We are in a very tough group. But that hasn't dimmed our preparations. The game with the UAE is another good test for the Indian team and that's the type of opposition we are up against in the competition."

India are pitted against Australia, South Korea and Bahrain in Group C and the UAE are in Group D along with Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

apassela@thenational.ae

6.45pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 1 and Dubai Sports 1