UAE hope Europe training will give 2018 World Cup qualifying boost
United Arab Emirates head coach Edgardo Bauza will be forced to select his squad for the final two qualifying matches for Russia 2018 only after watching his players' performances at their club training camps in Europe.
With temperatures in the Gulf well above 40 degrees C, clubs will prepare for the new domestic league season in northern Europe. The Argentine will travel to watch his national players go through their paces.
The U.A.E. meet Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 before their final qualifying match takes place in Tehran on Sep. 5 against Iraq. The Gulf side need to win both matches to harbour any hope of keeping alive the country's dream of a first World Cup appearance in 28 years.
Bauza's team are in fourth place in Group B, which is led by Japan in a three-way fight with Australia and Saudi Arabia for the two automatic berths in the draw for the finals later this year.
The U.A.E. need to win both of their remaining matches, and hope for a massive goal-difference swing and other results going their way, to have any chance of securing even a berth in the playoffs.
Bauza will travel to the Netherlands to see champions Al Jazira and newly formed Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in action, while also running the rule of the players from Al Nasr at their base in Hungary.
The U.A.E. squad will convene on Aug. 18, but they will not be joined by the players from Al Ain, who are preparing for their AFC Champions League (ACL) meeting with Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia three days later.
Asian Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman looks set to be available for that meeting in the continental championship, despite an offer to join French club Nice on loan earlier in the summer.
The Ligue 1 side announced the signing of former Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder last week. The Dutchman's arrival means it is now unlikely Abdulrahman will make the switch, as he focuses on winning the ACL title with Al Ain.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch