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World Cup 2022: Malaysia coach wary of the UAE naturalized rookies

World Cup 2022: Malaysia coach wary of the UAE naturalized rookies

Coach Tan Cheng Hoe of Malaysia has just warned the heat of the race to the third round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying (AFC), after the UAE officially naturalized 3 stars from Brazil and Argentina.

As Livesportasia has mentioned before, after the appointment of new coach Ivan Jovanovic, the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) has looked for every possible way to have the strongest force in order to compete for the top of Group G. Currently, with 6 points (but playing less than 1 game), the UAE is ranked 4th after Vietnam (11 points), Malaysia (9 points) and Thailand (8 points).

The match against Malaysia at home in Dubai on March 26th will be considered crucial for the West Asia team's ambition. Because if UAE wins 3 points in this match, this team will have many advantages to qualify for the final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying in Asia.

In the next 3 matches, after visiting Indonesia which currently ranks at the bottom of the Group (lost all 5 matches), the UAE still has 2 home games against Thailand (June 4) and Vietnam (June 9) respectively.

Recently, coach Jovanovic plans to increase the attacking power with 3 naturalized stars. Thus, the UAE has completed the naturalization procedures for striker Sebastian Lucas Taglibue (Argentina) and the Brazilian attacking duo Caio Canedo (Club Al Ain) and Fabio Virginio de Lima (Al Wasl).

These are the 3 brightest stars in the UAE Pro League for many recent years and all qualified by FIFA (playing in the UAE for 5 years) to be able to join Jovanovic's team. Of these, according to the UAE media, it is likely that Serbian strategist is considering choosing Taglibue to increase the attacking power, thereby avoiding relying too much on Ali Mabkhout.

The 34-year-old Argentine striker has lived with his wife and two children in the UAE since 2013 and is the top goalscorer in the UAE Pro League by scoring a total of 146 goals. In this season, Taglibue is also the 'top gunner' with 9 goals in 14 matches.

World Cup 2022: Malaysia coach wary of the UAE naturalized rookies

Taglibue himself also expressed his desire to be summoned by coach Jovanovic to be able to play in March. According to the UAE press, UAEFA has already signed up all three stars for the national preliminary list at the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

If these three naturalized stars are summoned, the UAE will own a very strong attack as Caio Canedo and Fabio Virginio are also considered the best foreign footballers since coming to Western Asia since 2014. In particular, Fabio Virginio has so far scored a total of 93 goals in 114 matches in the UAE Pro League.

Facing the UAE's move, it is easy to understand why Malaysia's coach Tan Cheng Hoe is really worried in a recent statement: “We know that the UAE is in desperate need of a victory, so they have naturalized 3 attacking players. We have seen all of them currently competing in the UAE Pro League and they all have the strength and excellence in attacking. Therefore, their presence gives the UAE lots of strength”.

World Cup 2022: Malaysia coach wary of the UAE naturalized rookies

However, the Malaysian coach is still calm and confident in his plans. Before the match against the UAE, Malaysia will have a friendly match against another West Asian team.

"Regardless of whether the opponent is doing everything to strengthen, we are in the best preparation and will make the most of the upcoming training time to be ready to face the UAE", Mr. Tan Cheng Hoe added.

According to the schedule, Malaysia will fly to Bahrain to play a friendly match on March 21st. After this match, coach Tan Cheng Hoe's team will return home to prepare for an important match against Vietnam on March 31st.