UAE line up India friendly ahead of 2022 World Cup qualifiers


The UAE are set to take on India in a friendly next month as part of their preparations for World Cup qualification.

The national team had been scheduled to resume their Group G campaign against Malaysia and Indonesia, but those matches, slated for March 25 and March 30 respectively, were postponed earlier this month until June.

The Football Association has bid to host all Group G’s remaining matches after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decided that each group would stage their outstanding fixtures in a centralised venue. The deadline for member associations to submit proposals is Friday, with the AFC to announce their decision by March 15.

Irrespective of that, the UAE will host India in Dubai on March 29 during a shortened training camp, with March 23-29 the provisional dates for the get-together. India, who compete in Group E, announced on Friday plans for their own training camp in the emirate from March 15, and will take on Oman in a friendly on March 25 before facing the UAE. India have not played since November 2019.

As for the UAE, next month’s training camp is viewed by manager Bert van Marwijk as an important step on the road to reaching the third round of qualification. The national team, currently fourth in Group G but with a game in hand, most recently played out a goalless friendly with Iraq last month – Van Marwijk’s first match since being reappointed in December. The Dutchman, who guided the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final and then Saudi Arabia to the global finals in 2018, previously managed the UAE for nine months from March 2019.

The national team will play qualifiers against Malaysia (June 3), Indonesia (June 7), Thailand (June 11) and Vietnam (June 15). Vietnam lead the standings on 11 points, five ahead of the UAE, who have a game in hand over each of their rivals.

Only the top team are guaranteed to progress to the third round of qualification, together with the four best runners-up from the eight groups. The third round begins in September.

Published: February 28, 2021 03:23 PM