Omar Abdulrahman lead the talking points ahead of Thursday's meeting between Trinidad and Tobago and the UAE
Superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman’s grand return for the UAE is set to take place in unlikely surroundings on Thursday when troubled preparations for January 2019’s Asian Cup continue with a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago (20:00 UAE) at Catalonia’s Estadi Palamos Costa Brava.
Here are the talking points from the first part of a double header that concludes with Tuesday’s meeting with lowly Laos.
AMOORY’S RESCUE MISSION
The time for reintroductions has arrived.
Amoory, 26, finally departed UAE borders this summer. But after years of speculation about a ground-breaking switch to Europe, he now dons the proud blue of Saudi Arabia behemoths Al Hilal.
The ex-Al Ain idol has not played for the Whites since January because of misdemeanours – along with fellow returnee Ali Mabkhout of Al Jazira – at that month’s Gulf Cup, subsequent absence for March’s King’s Cup and complications caused by a wrought exit that ensured he missed August’s Austria training camp. That concluded with a depressing goalless draw against minnows Andorra.
Abdulrahman has shown flashes of genius in two competitive – and goalless – starts for Hilal.
The 2016 AFC Player of the Year’s spark is desperately required by struggling Whites coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
TRINIDAD’S ROUGH TRIP
A sojourn in Spain has brought nothing but misery for towering Soca Warriors boss Dennis Lawrence.
The ex-Everton first-team development coach’s squad arrived on Monday and hadn’t trained by Wednesday morning.
“I believe it’s the representative of the match agent, those are the ones that got everything wrong in terms of no bus turning up for our training sessions and no pitches arranged,” an infuriated Lawrence stated.
Time together was precious for undercooked Trinidad. April’s 1-0 friendly defeat against World Cup 2018 qualifiers Panama was the last time they played.
ZACCH MUST ATTACK
The Asian Cup currently elicits a sense of dread for the host nation.
Since Zaccheroni’s October 2017 appointment, the Whites have scored just four goals in 12 matches. This dull dozen includes four wins, four draws and four defeats.
Optimism about a repeat of 2015’s remarkable run to third in the previous continental tournament is at a low ebb.
Trinidad, placed 14 spots below the 77th-ranked UAE by FIFA after a period of inactivity, and Laos, currently ranked 178th, should provide both contrasting styles and easy prey for a team in need of rejuvenation.
For starters, Zaccheroni’s trademark 3-4-1-2 formation should gain vigour thanks to Abdulrahman and stellar striker Mabkhout’s reintegration. Midfielder Amer Abdulrahman, meanwhile, must build on a strong start to 2018/19 for Al Ain, which contrasts his insipid role in the Andorra debacle.