The UAE National Olympic team will start training today at 5pm at the Rashid stadium in the Al Ahli Club to finetune their final preparations for the crucial match against Uzbekistan on Wednesday in the Asian Olympic qualifiers (Group F).
The Olympic team players could only assemble at 10:30 pm at Concorde hotel last night after they finished playing with their respective clubs in the Etisalat First Division league which concluded late on Saturday.
The UAE Olympic team coach Alex Duponte said that he was worried during Saturday’s league matches that any of the players selected for the Olympic team could be injured and miss the most important match against Uzbekistan.
"I asked the Olympic team players who played last night with their clubs in the league 20th stage to take care of themselves and to avoid rashness so that no one of them is injured," said Duponte.
"Since there is no time to go for a replacement, we will just have two sessions of training before we play on Wednesday."
Meanwhile, the Uzbekistan team arrived in the UAE on Saturday to acclimatise with the hot weather. They held a training session at the Al Shabab Club and will train tomorrow at the match venue at the Rashid Stadium at the Al Ahli Club.
The UAE have to win the match tomorrow if they hope to qualify for the second round of the Olympic qualifiers. The hosts are second in Group F with six points from four matches. They beat Yemen twice, in Sana’a and in Abu Dhabi, and lost two matches to Korea at home and Uzbekistan away.
Two to qualify
Two teams will qualify from Group F to the second round. South Korea secured the top place with 12 points from four straight wins without a defeat or a draw. The second spot will be decided between the UAE and Uzbekistan. Tomorrow’s match will to some extent decide the second team to accompany South Korea to the second round. It will not be easy for Duponte’s team though. If they beat Uzbekistan and raise their points tally to nine, they will still have to beat South Korea in an away match at Seoul next month or at least win one point to qualify.
Duponte and his assistant Salim Rabea selected 20 players for the training camp. The following XI will represent UAE on Wednesday: Abdullah Al Nouby, Talal Abdullah, Saeed Al Kuthairi, Ali Al Zaabi, Mohammad Al Sheh’hi, Ali Hussain, Badr Yaqout, Adil Saqr, Mahmoud Qasim, Fawzi Faiz, Naser Khamis, Nasib Isaq, Ali Khasif, Ahmad Mubarak, Yousuf Abdullah, Yousuf Jaber, Walid Abbas, Ahmad Khamis, Amir Mubarak, Radhwan Saleh.