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  • Writer's pictureIan Pulczynski

Socceroos Opposition Watch: United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates hasn't qualified for a World Cup since Italy in 1990 but will be looking to move one step closer to 2022 qualification against Australia in the AFC fourth round playoff.

The United Arab Emirates have only beaten Australia once in their history. Source: Asian Football Confederation

After finishing third in Group A, which featured IR Iran, South Korea, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, the UAE will face Australia. The Socceroos also finished third in their respective qualifying group.

The last time Australia played against the UAE was in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Asian Cup.

A poor back-pass from Milos Degenek was intercepted by Ali Mabkhout, who scored and eliminated Australia from the tournament. Until now, Mabkhout's winner is the only goal the UAE have scored against Australia in six meetings.

The UAE eliminated Australia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Asian Cup. Source: Herald Sun

Although none of their squad members plays their club football in any foreign leagues, the UAE still possesses many quality players.

Mabkhout is arguably one of the best finishers in Asia and has scored the most goals for the UAE national team in their history (80). He isn't notorious for his pace or dribbling ability. But if Mabkhout gets given an opportunity inside the penalty area, he usually punishes the opposition.

19-year-old Harib Al-Maazmi is a pacey winger who scored the match-winner for the UAE in a 1-0 win over South Korea. He is a winger who will use his electric speed to cause Australia's defence problems.

Omar Abdulrahman returns to the UAE squad despite a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury. Source: Twitter

Omar Abdulrahman has been called up to the squad to face Australia despite 212 minutes for Shabab Dubai in the UAE Pro League.

Abdulrahman is the UAE's most technically gifted player; however, he faces match fitness issues.

Abdalla Ramadan has had a memorable 2021/22 season, featuring in the AFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup for Al-Jazira. Ramadan will aim to use the experience gained from those tournaments to control the UAE midfield.

Despite having Mabkhout as their striker, the UAE struggle to score goals. They only managed to score seven times in 10 group stage matches. However, their defence was very stubborn in qualifying, conceding just as many and keeping clean sheets against Lebanon, Syria, and South Korea.

Former Boca Juniors and Villarreal player Rodolfo Arruabarrena is the current manager of the Gulf nation and will play an enormous role in helping the UAE qualify for Qatar 2022.

Former Boca Juniors player Rodolfo Arruabarrena is the current manager of the UAE. Source: Asian Football Confederation

The Argentine has only managed the UAE three times ahead of the clash against Australia. His results included a 1-0 loss to Iraq, a 1-0 win over South Korea, and a 1-1 draw with The Gambia.

It is hard to determine how the UAE play under Arruabarrena exactly. However, one thing is clear: Arruabarrena and his UAE side will be prepared for their meeting with Australia.

Since 2011, the UAE has only defeated Australia once and scored only once. However, form and recent history rarely matter leading up to these matches.

The UAE will be used to the weather conditions against Australia, as the city of Al Rayyan, Qatar, will host the playoff match. It is expected to be 41 degrees during the day in Al Rayyan. But to the players' relief, the stadium is airconditioned to tackle the hot climate.

The United Arab Emirates faces Australia in the AFC fourth round qualifying match on Wednesday morning at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. The kick-off is at 4am AEST and broadcast live on Channel 10.

For more news on the Socceroos and their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, click here.


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