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Gulf Cup: Mahdi confident ahead of final

Hisham Al Gizouli / 17 January 2013

For the second time the UAE head coach Mahdi Ali received a grand applause from the members of the Arab and international media at the Press Centre.

After all he was the mastermind behind UAE’s memorable 1-0 victory over Kuwait in the semi-final.

Ali thanked the crowd but declined to comment when asked if his success has proved that local coaches can be as good as their foreign counterparts.

“What matters to me most right now is that the people of the UAE are happy. Thousands of fans travelled to Bahrain to cheer the players on and I am happy that we gave them a beautiful reason to celebrate,” Ali told reporters during the post-match Press conference.

“We have played a big game and I’m confident that the players will be ready to face the Iraqi challenge in the final on Friday,” he said.

Speaking about his decision to field Muhanad Al Enazi instead of Hamdan Al Kamali, Ali said: “I’m happy with all my 23 players. I have earlier said that we do not divide them into key and reserve players. They are all key players and my job is to select the right player for the right game. We have conceded only two goals in four starts and scored eight goals. But, some people stand upside down before they look to the others. I have relied on Al Enazi after his strong performance against Oman and for this reason I had to give him the chance to improve further.

“Abdul Aziz Sanqoor, Abdul Aziz Haikal, and Mohammed Ahmed, who form the  defensive line with Al Enazi, have been in the team for quite a long period and they know what I need from them,” he said.

“I have nothing to worry about ahead of our tough clash against former Asian champions Iraq in the final. Our national team has built up its own character and style of play. We have faced Uruguay and Britain in front of 85000 spectators at the Old Trafford and Wembley during the recent Olympic Games. It’s true that our players are still young age-wise, but they are in reality true stars and mature and experienced footballers. The least of them has 50 international caps. And when you have strikers of the calibre of Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout, you are a lucky man,” he added.

“I’m not a magician who can predict the final score of any particular game. My job is to prepare the squad to play total football without worrying about the result.”

I teach them how to enjoy the game and please their fans technically and tactically.

“This is the first time the Kuwaitis have to go back from Bahrain without the Gulf title. The UAE lads have broken the generally accepted rule,” he said.  

“With the exception of Ali Khusaif and Muhanad Al Enazi, all the players who took part against Kuwait are U-23,” he said.

“I have achieved four out of my five wishes,” Ali said, but declined to elaborate. “I will tell you after the final what’s the fifth wish,” he said with a smile.




Shaikha Hind’s initiative

DUBAI — Shaikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Jumaa Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has given directives to arrange three planes to bring the UAE fans from Manama to Dubai following the team’s splendid 1-0 victory over Kuwait in the semi-final of the 21st Gulf Cup.

The initiative was highly appreciated by the sports community in general and the UAEFA in particular.



DUBAI — Dubai Ambulance Services Authority has provided round the clock services for the UAE national team’s fans during their round trip to Bahrain from Dubai.

The UAEFA hails the efforts of the ambulance services which have attended many emergency cases.

The UAE fans have played a major role in motivating the players who have reached the final of the 21st Gulf Cup.

seven planes to carry UAE fans


SHARJAH — His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has ordered the allocation of three planes to help UAE fans travel to Bahrain to cheer their team on in the Gulf Cup final against Iraq.

The move comes in line with Shaikh Sultan’s support to the UAE  team, especially after the performance against Kuwait.

Dr Ghanem Al Hajiri, Chairman of the Sharjah International Airport Authority, said the first flight will take off from the Sharjah International Airport at 9am on Friday, while the second plane will take off at 12:30pm and the third at 4:10pm.

His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, has also ordered the allocation of four planes to transport the football fans to Bahrain. — WAM


Results and fixtures

  • Wednesday

First semi-final

UAE           1          Kuwait  0

Second semi-final

Iraq 1          Bahrain 1

  • Iraq win 4-2 on penalties
  • Friday
  • Third Place match

Bahrain vs Kuwait (4:30pm UAE Time)


UAE vs Iraq (6:45pm UAE Time)


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