BAHRAIN’S senior men’s national football team are set to play a pair of international friendly matches over the next week and a half.
The Bahrainis first take on their counterparts from the Philippines on Thursday and then on Monday next week suit up to face China.
Both games are to be held at the National Stadium in Riffa with a 7pm kick-off. Entrance is free for both friendlies.
The Philippines team are scheduled to arrive in Bahrain today.
Amongst the top names reported to be joining their squad in Bahrain are Filipino-British players Neil Etheridge and Luke Woodland. Etheridge is a goalkeeper who plays for English Premier League side Cardiff City and Woodland is a midfielder who now plies his trade in Thailand but was once a player with Bolton Wanderers and Oldham Athletic.
Joining them are Filipino-Spanish player Alvaro Silva who plays as a professional in Malaysia, Fil-Iranian player Amin Nazari who plays in Finland and Fil-German Stephan Schrock who was once a mainstay in the Bundesliga and who also played for Germany’s junior and youth national teams. Popular brothers Phil and James Younghusband are also set to be in Bahrain.
The Filipinos are coached by the newly signed Irishman Scott Cooper.
The Chinese, meanwhile, are also expected to bring a full squad to Bahrain for their friendly match. They are coached by former Juventus, Inter and Italian national team manager Marcello Lippi, who is one of the most respected tacticians in the world.
Bahrain’s national team had recently returned from the Czech Republic where they had a camp under head coach Miroslav Soukup, who has named 24 players to prepare for the friendlies.
These tune-ups are part of the Bahrainis’ preparations for their upcoming tournaments, including the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in January in the UAE.
The roster features Sayed Dhiya Saeed, who plays professionally in Kuwait; Sayed
Shubbar Alawi, Kumail Abdulla, Ahmed Abdulla, Ibrahim Habeeb, Ali Madan, Mohammed
Sahwan, (Al Najma); Abdulla Yusuf (East Riffa); Ahmed Jumaa, Jamal Rashid, Isa Moosa, Abdulla Abdo, (Muharraq); Ali Isa, Hussain Jameel (Al Shabab); Abo Baker Adem, Kumail Al Aswad, Ali Haram (Riffa); Sayed Redha Isa, Yousif Habeeb (Malkiya); Mahdi Abduljabbar (Ettihad); Jassim Al Shaikh (Al Ahli); Ahmed Bu Ghammar (Al Hidd); and Ashraf Waheed and Ahmed Moosa (Manama).
The Bahrainis have been drawn in Group ‘A’ for the Asian Cup alongside tournament hosts UAE, India and Thailand. Group ‘B’ comprises Australia, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. Group ‘C’ features China, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines. Group ‘D’ includes Iran, Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen. Group ‘E’ is composed of North Korea, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Group ‘F’ includes Japan, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The AFC Asian Cup 2019 will be Bahrain’s sixth participation in the continental showcase. Their best finish was in 2004, when they claimed fourth place overall out of 16 participating teams. In the previous edition in 2015 held in Australia, the Bahrainis failed to make it past the group stage after losing two of their three games.
Bahrain will be featuring in the inaugural match of the Asian Cup in the 43,000-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It will on January 5 against hosts UAE.