UAE grind out crucial 1-0 win in AFC under-23 Championship opener

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The UAE opened their AFC under-23 championships campaign with a win in Doha.

The UAE kicked off their AFC under-23 Championships campaign with a win over Australia in Doha on Thursday night.

Aussie player Giancarlo Gallifuoco inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net late on as the UAE grinded out a 1-0 win to start Group D in strong fashion.

The tournament provides teams with a route through into next summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

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UAE U23 ready to begin Olympic qualifying vs. Australia

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Representing UAE: Mohamad Al Akbari.

UAE boss Dr Abdullah Misfer has declared the fight to secure a spot at Rio 2016 is wide open ahead of the nation’s AFC U-23 Championship opener against Australia on Thursday night. The Whites need a top-three finish in Qatar this month to earn a second-successive entry into the Olympics.

The Olyroos are first up at Grand Hamad Stadium in Group D and former Al Dhafra supremo Misfer is under no illusion about the task facing him. He said: “The technical level of all 16 teams in Asia is very high and we expect fierce competition between all teams.

“All the teams have a chance to win and we are one of the teams coming to compete at this tournament and qualify for the Olympics. The preparation depends on the team and the quality of the team, but of course we respect Australia. We have to play well against Australia, but we have a good team and we can perform well.”

The UAE arrived in Doha on Sunday following a three-week preparatory period which included two separate training camps, plus friendly victories against North Korea and China and a defeat to hotly-tipped South Korea.

They boast a talented squad, headlined by Al Jazira playmaker Khalfan Mubarak, Al Wahda forward Mohamed Al Akbari and Al Ain defensive midfielder Ahmed Barman. A top-two finish in their pool will provide entry to the quarter-finals, with Jordan on Sunday and Vietnam on Wednesday awaiting after the Australia test.

“After the group stage, we can talk about competing for the title and if we can qualify for Rio 2016,” Misfer insisted.

Australia and the UAE also competed against each for a berth at London 2012. The pair shared a goalless draw in Adelaide before a solitary effort from Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman settled a tight contest in Abu Dhabi.

The Olyroos eventually finished at the foot of the qualifying table without a win, while the UAE went on to catch the eye at the Games.

This recent history ensured coach Aurelio Vidmar was taking nothing for granted. He said: “We know the UAE very well. Our country has a long history with games against the UAE. They have talented players and if you look back at the last generation which is now with the senior team, I see the same in this group.”

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AC Milan to provide junior training camps to UAE orphans

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The Milan junior camp.

Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has today (Thursday, January 7) announced a partnership with the Dubai AC Milan Junior Camp Football Academy.

AMAF oversees the care of nearly 2,400 minors and orphans in Dubai and the foundation provides assistance for residential, educational and medical support for these children up until the age of 21.

Both boys and girls of varying ages from the AMAF foundation have already attended two separate sessions with the Serie A team’s training camp in Dubai from December 24 – 30, 2015.

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The Dubai AC Milan Junior Camp is the official soccer programme run by Italian football giants AC Milan.

Organised in association with GEMS Education and B&F Partners, the AMAF say the initiative is part of its wider commitment to provide “excellent quality of life, education and care for the nearly children under their care”.  

The AC Milan Junior Camp is the first stepping stone in a follow-up soccer programme for young talent in the sport and aids their development as athletes and individuals.

Through participating at the Camp, the children will gain access to AC Milan’s experienced coaching staff and state-of-the-art facilities.

Youngsters at the training camp.

Upon completion of the camp, young ‘graduates’ receive official AC Milan Junior Camp certificates. In addition, the best players could be invited to attend the Milan Junior Camp Day in 2016 held annually in Milan. The event will see selected children from various Milan Junior Camps worldwide play together in a challenging and stimulating tournament.

Speaking about the initiative, His Excellency Tayeb Al Rais, secretary general of AMAF, said: “We thank the Dubai AC Milan Junior Camp for providing our children with an incredible opportunity.

“We are positive that the camp will teach strong values in teamwork, perseverance, respect and friendship.

“Apart from being a great source of entertainment for our kids, the initiative also provides the chance of a lifetime for young and talented players to learn from the best in the international soccer field.”

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