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Bahrain deny friendly match with Thailand

NATIONAL soccer team manager Hassan Khalfan has denied that Bahrain are to face Thailand in an international soccer match on June 2, despite the fixture being listed on Fifa's official website, reports PATRICK SALOMON.

The match was to be played in preparation for Bahrain's final two Fifa World Cup qualifiers next month.

Khalfan, however, told the GDN yesterday that the match should not be taking place as neither he nor the Bahrain Football Association have agreed to or been informed of the game.

"We have no information about this match and it's a surprise that the fixture is already on the Fifa site," Khalfan said.

He added that the BFA have been looking to schedule a couple of friendlies in two weeks' time to tune up for their upcoming qualifiers. Khalfan noted that an arranged friendly with Panama scheduled for May 29 may have to be called off after recently receiving word that their national federation sent a letter apologising for not being able to make it to Bahrain for the game.

Further, an understanding has been reached that China will be playing a friendly with Bahrain, likely on June 3.

"This match is not 100 per cent sure, but we have contacted them and they are very much interested in playing this friendly with us," he said.

The Fifa website though, states that the Chinese are set to play Iran and Saudi Arabia, both in China and in the first week of June, diminishing the likelihood of a game against the Bahrainis.

The national team take on Australia and Uzbekistan in their final two Fifa World Cup qualifiers. They first travel to Sydney to play the 'Socceroos' on June 10, and then host Uzbekistan at the National Stadium in Riffa on the 17th.

They are scheduled to begin training under national coach Milan Macala on Wednesday at the BFA pitches in Riffa. The Czech tactician is expected to start practices with a squad of his Bahrain-based internationals. Khalfan said it was still undetermined when the kingdom's overseas players would join the squad, due to club commitments.

Bahrain are currently third in qualifying group one. They are trying to hold on to their spot behind division leaders Australia and Japan, while staying in front of Qatar and the Uzbeks, in order to secure a playoff route to next year's World Cup.

Third in division one faces third in division two in a final home-and-away format. The winner then moves on to face Oceania winners New Zealand in the final playoff match-up for a World Cup berth.



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