Ahmed skips training to attend father’s funeral

DUBAI — Al Ahli’s international forward Ahmed Khalil returned to Dubai to attend the funeral of his late father Khalil Al Junaibi who passed away on Wednesday morning.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

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Published: Fri 26 Aug 2011, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:22 PM

“This is the will of Allah,” said Khalil’s elder brother Fouad who was also a former Al Ahli international striker.

“I have told Ahmed to be strong and reunite immediately with the national squad in Al Ain city ahead of their Thursday’s friendly against Qatar,” he said.

Qatar’s clash is the final stage of the Whites’ preparations for the third round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers which kick off with a tough encounter against Gulf rivals Kuwait in Group B at Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Ain City on September 2. The group also features Lebanon and South Korea besides UAE and Kuwait. “It’s a national duty and Ahmed should learn how to overcome the sad moments,” he added.

Late Khalil Al Junaibi’s three sons played football at the highest level. Apart from Fouad and Ahmed, Faisal Khalil, who is affectionately called by fans as Al Ahli’s Didier Drogba, has also made his presence felt over the years.

He started with the junior national team and climbed upwards to establish himself as top scorer of the senior national team. But the brilliant forward sustained an injury two years ago in the curtain raiser of the 2009/2010 season — the Super Cup between Al Ahli and Al Ain at Dubai Sports City. Faisal collided with Al Ahli’s former Brazilian striker Bare and remained away from the pitch for two seasons. Now he’s slowly getting back to form.

Ahmed has been fighting on five fronts. The 20-year-old has won with the youth national team the AFC U-19 Cup in 2008 when he was only 17, and helped the same squad enter the last eight of the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. It was only the last minute mistake of their libro Hamdan Al Kamali that cost them the result of their quarter-final game against Costa Rica, a match that they should have won if the result of football games is measured against performance. Again, Ahmed Khalil was shortlisted for the Olympic and senior national teams.

“Condolences for the Khalil brothers and their family for the demise of their father,” said the UAE national team manager Ismail Rashid. “We do appreciate the contributions of this family to the national teams. We have released Ahmed Khalil to attend the funeral and if he wants he can join the team for the match against Qatar. We won’t put any pressure on him. It’s his decision as we completely understand his situation,” he concluded.

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