x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE Olympic football team using Turkey to prepare for Uzbekistan

Training in Turkey offered to host UAE side as its path to the London 2012 Olympics goes through Tashkent via a training layover in Istanbul.

Hamdan Al Kamali has been cleared by his French club, Lyon, to join his Under 23 national teammates for their Olympic qualifier against Uzbekistan.
Hamdan Al Kamali has been cleared by his French club, Lyon, to join his Under 23 national teammates for their Olympic qualifier against Uzbekistan.

With passage to the London Olympics only 90 minutes away, the UAE's Under 23 football team travel to Istanbul on Tuesday to begin training ahead of the March 14 match in Uzbekistan.

They will be reinforced by Hamdan Al Kamali, who has been given permission by Lyon, the France Ligue 1 side, to join his UAE teammates on Thursday.

The U23 team lead Group B in qualifying for London 2012, and a draw in Tashkent would be enough to put the UAE footballers in the Summer Games for the first time.

A defeat would make the Olympic quest more difficult. The runner-up from Group B will join the second-place teams from the other two Asia groups for a three-sided tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam, beginning on March 25. The survivor there would play Senegal in Coventry, England, in April, and the winner goes to London.

Training in Turkey recommended itself to the FA's technical committee because it offers a climate more resembling that of Uzbekistan than does the UAE, and Tashkent can be reached by direct flight from Istanbul.

Mahdi Ali's club played a 0-0 draw with Uzbekistan in Al Ain in November. Kick-off is 6pm in Tashkent (5pm UAE).

poberjuerge@thenational.ae