x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Selection still a sore point for Katanec as he turns focus to Angola

The national team coach will continue experimenting against Angola in the team's second friendly in three days at Zayed Sports City. 

Srecko Katanec, the national team coach, will continue experimenting against Angola tonight in the team's second friendly in three days at Zayed Sports City. 

The Slovenian is in charge of a depleted squad after the Football Association decided to focus their efforts on qualification for the 2012 Olympics and Katanec is therefore without the best Under 23 players as they prepare for the Asian Games in China from November 7-25.

The coach is preparing a squad for the Gulf Cup in Yemen, which starts on November 22, and he also has to leave out players from Al Wahda, who will be playing in the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in December. It is a sore point for the Slovenian. "I don't want to talk any more on the selection problems," Katanec said. "The football administration in the country has made it clear that the main objective is to qualify for the Olympics, so my job is to have a squad prepared for the Gulf Cup without those in the Olympic team.

"We played Chile the other day and I wasn't very happy with that performance, particularly in the first half. "We had two days to iron out a few areas and we are now ready for a good game with Angola, who are also a very strong side." The UAE lost 2-0 to Chile and Ismail Matar, the Wahda forward who was substituted midway through the first half, may also be missing tonight, adding to Katanec's woes.

"Ismail is not suffering from injury, but he complained of a stomach problem for which he has undergone medical treatment. He is unlikely to play," said Fahad Ali, the former UAE captain and one of Katanec's assistants. "The coach wants to try different combinations in these friendlies, however. There are a few players who didn't get to play against Chile and they may get a call-up." The Angola team did a light workout at the match venue last night after arriving in Dubai in the morning.

apassela@thenational.ae 

7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 1