BAHRAIN’S senior men’s national team are set to play an international friendly match against their counterparts from Palestine later this month, it was confirmed yesterday by the Bahrain Football Association (BFA).
The match is scheduled for March 22 and it will be a part of both teams’ preparations for their final qualifiers for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup later this month.
Bahrain take on Turkmenistan at home while Palestine travel to Muscat to face off with Gulf side Oman. Both matches will be played on March 27.
The Bahrainis are scheduled to get together for training under national team head coach Miroslav Soukup starting from March 19 at the BFA premises in Riffa.
Soukup has yet to name a squad for this period, but is expected to do so in the coming couple of weeks.
It will be the first time that senior nationals will be back in action since competing in the 23rd Gulf Cup in early January.
The BFA recently extended Soukup’s contract for another season, and he is expected to remain at the helm of the national squad until next year’s Asian Cup.
Both Bahrain and Palestine have already secured their berths in the continental showpiece. However, they will still be looking to end their qualifying campaign on a winning note. Both teams are currently atop their groups with the last game remaining.
Bahrain are in joint-first place in Group ‘E’ after amassing 10 points from their first five matches, where they won thrice, drew once and lost the other. The Turkmen are also on 10 points but Bahrain have a greater goal difference of +8 to +3.
Palestine top Group ‘D’ with 15 points, having won all five of their matches to date.
There are 24 teams in all in the third and final round of Asian Cup qualifying. They have been divided into six groups of four each. Only the top two teams from each group qualify for the competition proper.
Some nations are already in the competition. They include tournament hosts the UAE, Qatar, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, China, Palestine, Oman, India, Lebanon, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Vietnam and Bahrain.
Next year’s AFC Asian Cup will be the 17th edition of the prestigious annual championship of Asia, organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It will be held in the UAE. It will be the second time that the UAE hosts the tournament after the 1996 finals.
Bahrain will be competing in their sixth AFC Asian Cup next year. The Bahrainis last competed in the 2015 edition. Their best-ever finish was fourth overall in 2004.