BAHRAIN'S senior men's national football team kicked off their all-important training camp in Kuwait last night with a practice session at local club Al Qadsia, reports PATRICK SALOMON.
The Bahrainis arrived in Kuwait City late on Thursday night. They are gearing up for their upcoming qualifying matches for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, which are to be held next month and in November.
National team head coach Anthony Hudson facilitated yesterday's on-pitch session, with the participation of a majority of the 23 players he called up to be a part of the camp. It is Hudson's first time in charge of Bahrain's first team while overseas.
Bahrain internationals Hussain Baba and Abdulwahab Al Malood joined their teammates training for the first time. They had previously missed the first four days of practices held in Bahrain.
Injured veteran midfielder Mohammed Salmeen, who was not a part of the 23 named players, still travelled with the team, but he continued to work on getting back to full fitness as he is still recovering from a nagging injury.
The national team continues their preparations in Kuwait today. They are then set to play a friendly match against their Kuwaiti counterparts on Monday before ending their camp and flying back to Bahrain the next day.
The Bahrainis are in group 'D' of the qualification competition alongside Malaysia, Yemen and Qatar.
They travel to Kuala Lumpur to take on their Malaysian hosts on October 15, and then on November 15 play the return match in the kingdom.
Bahrain then host Yemen on November 19 in their penultimate qualifying fixture. Their final game will be in March of next year in Doha against Qatar.
The Bahrainis are currently atop group 'D' having won both their games so far. They first scored a 2-0 away victory against Yemen and then registered a 1-0 home win over Qatar.
There are five groups in all in the Asian Cup qualifying competition, and only the top two from each, along with the best third-placed team from all the groups, make it through to the 2015 finals which are to be held in Australia.
Group 'A' features Oman, Jordan, Singapore and Syria; group 'B' comprises Iran, Kuwait, Thailand and Lebanon; Group 'C' includes Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia; and Group 'E' features Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the UAE.
A total of 16 national teams will be playing in the Asian Cup. Five spots have already been taken; they include a place for host nation Australia, one for 2011 Asian Cup winners Japan, another for 2011 Asian Cup third-placers South Korea, and a place for 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners North Korea, while the fifth will go to the winner of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. The other 11 positions will be filled by the qualification competition.