Jazira players have made UAE proud, says Ten Cate

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Jazira players have made UAE proud, says Ten Cate
Al Jazira have entered the semifinals of the Fifa Club World Cup - the first team from the UAE to do so.

Abu Dhabi - In a short stint at the capital club, coach Henk ten Cate has provided some indelible footballing moments

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sun 10 Dec 2017, 8:24 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Dec 2017, 10:31 PM

In a short stint at the capital club, coach Henk ten Cate has provided some indelible footballing moments. Despite travails of the current season, he has steered his young side to the semifinals of the Fifa Club World Cup - the first team from the UAE to do so.
The Dutchman, celebrating his 63rd birthday with a 1-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds, reflected back on his tenure.
"It's not a secret. This is a team was formed two years ago when I arrived. We decided to say good bye to some players and bring in guys from academy. We might not have the best players but when it comes to team spirit, we have the best team," Ten Cate said after Al Jazira's second-round match at Zayed Sports City Stadium.
"Our focus was on winning the local championship last year and not the Champions League because of the selection we had. We didn't have that many players. The team wasn't ready to compete every three days. Now this year, we're missing five players. We couldn't have done even any better. If you look at the results so far, with the teams we've played, everybody in this country should be proud of this group of players because they have made the country proud."
Al Jazira got an able captain and reliable keeper in Ali Khasif, star striker in Ali Mabkhout, effective foreign legs in Romarinho and Mbark Boussoufa, experienced Fares Jumaa in defence. But a battery of youngsters in Salim Rashid, Mohamad Al Attas, Eissa Mohamed, Ahmed Rabia and some school kids complete the team.
"They fight for each other, they challenge and they have a big heart. This is how we play, with a big heart. I am very happy and proud of this team."
The coach said the fighting spirit and willpower has got them this far. "We are a team that is very difficult to beat. We will fight until the last minute. If you look at possession, of course Urawa Reds had more. They found each other easier than us and had some chances. But again it was proven that good and fighting sprits and the willpower to do something good can get you very far. And I'm proud of them."
There is a great bonding and attachment in this team. After the win all the players gave Ten Cate birthday bumps. "They threw me in the air. Normally, I don't fancy such things but this time I made an exception."
It was, however, a tough match which could have gone either way. It was only a 52-minute goal by Mabkhout which saved the day for the local club. Acknowledging Mabkhout's efforts, he said: "We have two quality strikers and one with a lot of speed. This guy is so good that he will always find a moment that he could release himself from any opponent and come into a position to score, and he did so."
He chose not to talk about next match against Real Madrid and said there's a long way to go still.
"We won the President's Cup and Arabian Gulf League championship together and to be honest we haven't won anything here but the love of football fans in the UAE. We are now not just playing for the club but also for Abu Dhabi and the UAE," the coach added.
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com



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