Following a mixed performance at the recent Gulf Cup, UAE coach Mahdi Ali has made a handful of changes in his squad for next month’s AFC Asian Cup.
Usual suspects Amer Abdulrahman, Ali Mabkhout, and AFC Player of the Year nominee Ismail Ahmed have been named, however there is no place in the 24-man squad for veteran striker Ismail Matar.
Star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman has been named despite carrying an injury he picked up in the Gulf Cup. While he hasn’t played since, he has returned to training and could return for Al Ain as early as this Thursday against Sharjah.
The selections by Ali, reflect his preference for youth after guiding UAE to the London 2012 Olympics. Only seven players are older than the average age of just 25.
UAE are scheduled to play two friendlies in Australia before kicking off their Asian Cup campaign; they will face Jordan on the Gold Coast on December 30th before a final trial against Kuwait four days later.
They are drawn in a tough Group C alongside Qatar, with whom they’ll open group play in Canberra on January 11th, Iran, and Bahrain.
UAE ASIAN CUP SQUAD (one to be omitted)
GOALKEEPERS: Majid Naser, Ali Khesaif, Khalid Essa
DEFENDERS: Hamdan Al-Kamali, Mohamed Ahmed, Ismail Ahmed, Mohaned Al-Anezi, Mohd Fawzi Joher, Abdulaziz Hikel, Abdulaziz Sanqoor, Walid Abbas
MIDFIELDERS: Hassan Ibrahim, Majed Hassan, Khamis Ismail, Habib Al-Fardan, Amer Abdulrahman, Ismail Al-Hamadi, Haboosh Saleh, Mohamed Al-Amodi, Omar Abdulrahman
FORWARDS: Ali Mabkhout, Ahmed Khalil, Salem Saleh, Saeed Al-Katheri