Sunderland prepare for Dubai trip for training camp and Al-Shabab Football Club friendly

Sunderland head to Dubai this weekend for a warm-weather training camp and friendly match.

The Championship is taking a three-week break for the Qatar World Cup with Sunderland next in action December 3 when Millwall visit Wearside.

The squad has this week off ahead of flying out to Dubai for a week’s training on Sunday.

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What has Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray said about the trip?

Sunderland beat Birmingham City before the break.

Mowbray, speaking last month, said: “We're going to Dubai, the weather will be good and so it'll be good for the players.

"For me it's about the bonding, I think it's really important that the lads who joined us six or seven weeks ago spend 24 hours a day with us rather than a few and then go off doing their own thing.

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"It's important to develop relationships and do things together, and of course we'll be training together a lot.

"The positive for me then as well is that we'll potentially have Ross Stewart with us at that point, potentially Daniel Ballard and Aji Alese. We'll work hard and then relax together as a group.

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Aji Alese is another player Tony Mowbray is hoping to have back in the fold.

"We then come back and have a full week to prepare for the Millwall game. I think it'll benefit us and the ally that with us getting some pretty key footballers back, hopefully we can reboot our season and go on and win some more football matches."

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Do Sunderland play any friendly matches over there?

Yes they do and it has sparked controversy among the fanbase.

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Sunderland have revealed they will play a friendly against Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab Football Club during their week-long training camp in Dubai.

They face Al-Shabab Football Club next Friday, November 25, 1pm KO UK time.

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A number of Sunderland fans have raised concerns about the friendly fixture given concerns around Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights.

A club statement read: “Sunderland AFC will face Al-Shabab Football Club in a friendly fixture during their upcoming trip to the United Arab Emirates.

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“Tony Mowbray’s side will travel to Dubai on Sunday for a week-long training camp ahead of a return to Sky Bet Championship action on 3 December when Millwall visit Wearside.

“The fixture against Al-Shabab, who currently sit first in the SPL, will be played on Friday 25 November at 17:00 GST (13:00 GMT) at Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence.”

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Any other Championship clubs heading over there?

Oh yes. Alex Neil’s Stoke City.

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Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray confirmed the plans last month, with Sunderland and their Championship rivals enjoying a mid-season break in fixtures due to the World Cup in Qatar.

And former Sunderland boss Neil, who left the club just weeks into the new season to join Stoke, has revealed he is also taking his squad over there for training.

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Neil told StokeonTrentLive: “I’d sorted out the trip to Sunderland to go to Dubai so they’ll be there at the same time as us.

“When I came here we actually looked at potentially going to America in terms of the weather but you’ve still got Covid restrictions and all that sort of stuff so it makes it a bit more complex.

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“To guarantee the weather and make sure we can still get a game under our belt when we get there, Dubai was the best option.”