The Whites embark on the path to qualifying for the World Cup in 2022 against Malaysia.
Tuesday will mark a couple of firsts for the UAE national team, firsts that perhaps could realize their long-standing dream of making only their second appearance at a World Cup.
The Whites embark on the path to qualifying for the World Cup in 2022 against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and their opening Group G fixture represents Bert van Marwijk’s first competitive game as coach.
The Dutchman comes with a glistening CV, having guided his home country to a runners-up finish at the 2010 World Cup, no less. Apart from that, the 67-year-old helped Saudi Arabia qualify for last year’s World Cup and also managed Australia at Russia.
With such an impressive body of work, the UAE will be looking to him with dreamy eyes and hope that he can finally turn the page and open a new chapter in the country’s football.
The road is long and winding one and Marwijk, having spent his camp in Austria in July, getting acquainted with the players, has infused the squad with young blood, to go with the experience.
And throwing these exciting young players into the deep end will only go on to serve the UAE as they come without any fear nor any baggage.
Another positive for Marwijk and the country will be playmaker Omar Abdulrahman’s probable first appearance in the UAE whites since his ACL injury which had rendered the playmaker hors de combat since last October.
All of these things point towards interesting times for the UAE as pursue World Cup glory.
“It will be the UAE team’s first appearance in a long time and my first as coach. I love working with these players and I see great enthusiasm, seriousness, and discipline from everyone because everyone bears responsibility and understands that the task is not easy. The journey is long and needs patience, sacrifices and a desire to achieve the aspirations of the country,” Marwijk said in his pre-match briefing at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Omar Abdulrahman, who missed out on the AFC Asian Cup on home soil earlier this year, vowed to give it his all for the new manager.
“We have learned from the past. We want to win every game. We will enter the qualifying campaign with more confidence and experience in dealing with every team,” said Omar.