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Jan 27, 2022 at 3pm UK
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Preview: United Arab Emirates vs. Syria - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Asia clash between United Arab Emirates and Syria, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Seeking to keep their slim hopes of automatic qualification for Qatar alive, the United Arab Emirates welcome Syria to Dubai in AFC World Cup 2022 Qualifying on Thursday.

The hosts occupy third position in Group A with four matches remaining, while their winless visitors are rock bottom of the standings.

Match preview

Australia manager Bert van Marwijk on May 29, 2018© Reuters

For all of their goal-laden performances in the second round of AFC FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying, the UAE have not been able to replicate such showings in the third round, but a top-two finish is not beyond the realm of possibility just yet.

The Sons of Zayed picked up their first win of Group A at the sixth attempt last time out - with Ali Mabkhout's penalty giving them a late 1-0 victory over Lebanon - and three previous draws have also helped them cement their spot in third place and a possible spot in the fourth round.

It will still be a tall order for the UAE to pip South Korea or Iran to one of the top two spots, as an eight-point gap separates Bert van Marwijk's side from the automatic qualification spots, so a shot at glory in the intercontinental play-offs is far more realistic.

Of course, Marwijk is no stranger to success on the world stage having guided the Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup, but his side were thrashed 5-0 by Qatar in the quarter-finals of the Arab Cup last month.

The UAE also failed to win any of their first three World Cup 2022 Qualifying third-round matches on home soil - being kept out by the opposition in two of them - but Marwijk will expect to see his side find their shooting boots against their lowly visitors here.

The final whistle in World Cup Qualifying cannot come quickly enough for Syria, whose wait for a first-ever appearance at the quadrennial event is sure to continue following a doomed third-round period.

The Qasioun Eagles have taken just two points from a possible 18 in Group A to sit rock bottom of the rankings - losing their most recent encounter 3-0 to Iran - and their Arab Cup campaign in December was also a forgettable affair.

Indeed, Valeriu Tita's side were eliminated in the group stage - despite claiming an eye-catching 2-0 win over Tunisia - and it is now four losses in five away games across all competitions for this week's visitors, who fell to a 2-1 defeat to the UAE in the Arab Cup.

On a more positive note, one of Syria's only two points in the third round of World Cup Qualifying did come at home in a 1-1 draw versus the UAE, but it would be a shock to see the world's 86th-ranked nation hold their own in Dubai.

United Arab Emirates World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W

United Arab Emirates form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Syria World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L

Syria form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

UAE veteran defender Mohanad Salem has now retired from international duty and will not take his usual spot at the back here, while attacker Fabio Lima remains out injured.

Walid Abbas - a 102-cap international - could fill the void left by Salem's absence in defence, but uncapped 22-year-old Abdulla Idrees will be pushing for his debut as well.

Marwijk may be tempted to keep some of his big-hitters in reserve ahead of the meeting with group leaders Iran, but the need for points should see the UAE boss put out his strongest recognised XI.

As for Syria, midfielder Ahmed Ashkar would be serving a suspension after picking up his second booking of Qualifying against Iran, but the 25-year-old has not been called up for these matches in any case.

Twenty-goal striker Omar Khribin is in line to win his 50th cap for the national team on Thursday, although he is still some way off catching all-time leading goalscorer Firas Al-Khatib and his 36 strikes.

United Arab Emirates possible starting lineup:
Khasif; Mohamed, Abbas, Al-Attas, Al Hammadi; Salmeen, Ramadan; Alzaabi, Saleh, Canedo; Tagliabue

Syria possible starting lineup:
Othman; Krouma, Al-Midani, Mohammad, Shehoini; Al-Khouli, Anez, Kaas Kawo, Jenyat; Al-Baher, Khribin

SM words green background

We say: United Arab Emirates 2-0 Syria

Even with a proven goalscorer in Khribin leading the charge, Syria's already slim hopes of reaching Qatar 2022 will surely be dashed on Thursday as the UAE aim to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

Marwijk's men have their destiny in their own hands with regards to a top-three finish and will expect to march to another win over their lowly visitors with minimal fuss.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

ID:476257:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect10093:

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