x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE's eleven men with one goal in mind

Ahead of today's opening match against North Korea, Amith Passela looks at the UAE's likely starting line-up.

Ahead of today's opening match against North Korea, Amith Passela looks at the UAE's likely starting line-up.

Majed Naser (Al Wasl - goalkeeper). Established as the first-choice goalkeeper ever since injury ruled out Al Ain's Waleed Salem four years ago. One of the four remaining members of the 2007 Gulf Cup-winning team along with Subait Khater, Ismail Matar and Saeed al Kas.

Yousef Jaber (Baniyas - defender). Dropped from the Under 23 squad for the recent Asian Games in China, the defender still has the confidence of Srecko Katanec, the national team coach, who has retained him from the squad that took part in the Gulf Cup in Yemen last month.

Waleed Abbas (Al Shabab - defender). Adds solidity with his uncompromising approach. His maturity complements the youngsters around him.

Hamdan al Kamali (Al Wahda - defender). Captain of the team that reached the last eight in the U20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009. He was a member of the U23 team that won a silver medal at the Asian Games in November.

Fares Juma (Al Ain - defender). Tall and athletic. Can move up to support the midfield but can also quickly fall back in defence.

Ismail al Hammadi (Al Wahda - winger). Useful on either wing and also in attack. He is powerfully built and hard working with an abundance of stamina.

Theyab Awana (Baniyas midfielder). Possesses good dribbling skills and nimble footwork. Can unlock and bamboozle the opposition's defence with his incisive passing and neat interplay.

Subait Khater (Al Jazira - midfielder).The captain and most experienced player. Pulls the strings from midfield and is the set-piece expert. He will be missed when he retires from international football at the end of the tournament.

Mahmoud Khamis (Al Wahda - winger). Speedy wide player who is charged with the task of providing the ammunition for the forwards.

Ismail Matar (AlWahda - forward).Still regarded as the team's finest player. Has not been in the best of form of late.

Ahmed Khalil (Al Ahli - striker).The country's brightest prospect. Outstanding in the age group competitions but needs to transfer that form to the senior team.

apassela@thenational.ae