FIFA Club World Cup will leave lasting legacy in Emirates, says UAE women's football team coach

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Trailblazer: Houriya Al Taheri.

Houriya Al Taheri, UAE women’s national team assistant coach and the first Arab woman to receive a professional coaching license, believes that the FIFA Club World Cup UAE, hosted in the UAE in 2017 and 2018, is set to leave a lasting legacy for women’s football in the country.

The football trailblazer is certain that the prestigious club competition, which takes place from December 6-16, will have a positive impact on the future of women’s football and will help unearth local talent that can then go on to represent the Emirates on the world’s sporting stage.

“Future is bright for the next generation of female football players in the UAE,” said Al Taheri. “Where we are today as the UAE women’s national football team is the culmination of all the efforts of government organisations in the country to propel women’s football at all levels.

“Abu Dhabi continuously strives to create equal opportunities for men and women in the sporting arena through bringing prestigious world-class events and some of the world’s most inspiring athletes to the capital.”

Abu Dhabi is set to host the 2017 and 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, following its success in 2009 and 2010. The AFC Asian Cup will also take place in the UAE in 2019, which will be the largest football event ever held in the region.

The capital’s burgeoning football portfolio sees world-class events deliver a host of benefits for the emirate including the discovery of local talent and the development of the sport at a local and international level.

Al Taheri strongly agrees that elite football competitions, whether men’s or women’s, have a powerful influence on professional footballers and budding talents.

“These events help empower the next generation to take up the sport, participate and learn from the world’s best,” she says.

This December, all eyes will be on Abu Dhabi as millions around the world will be following the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017.

Seven club champions will descend on the UAE capital to play eight title-deciding matches across 11 days in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Ticket sales have been overwhelmingly positive and are close to selling out, a reflection of the strong appetite for the sport in the country.

The last three or four years have seen a marked rise in the popularity of – and participation in – women’s football in the UAE. From 800 female football players in 2013, today there are close to 2,300 women playing the sport regularly as part of clubs, leagues, academies and the UAE women’s national football team.

“What really helped us play more football regularly in past years was the access to facilities. This kind of support, which is sometimes the result of bringing world-class sporting events to the UAE, encourages a lot of women to get into sports and support events such as the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017,” said Al Taheri.

One of Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s key mandates is to give Emirati men and women the unique opportunity to participate and get involved in the high-calibre sporting events that Abu Dhabi hosts.

Al Taheri is ecstatic about the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup because not only will she and her team-mates attend as football fans, they have key roles to play in supporting the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on the ground to make this tournament a great success.

“The FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 and 2010 in the UAE were fantastic and I am definitely proud of the strides we made in men’s and women’s football since then,” she added. “However, at the time we didn’t have a women’s national team and so our involvement in those tournaments was mostly as supporters and fans.

“This year is completely different. We are not only involved in promoting the tournament but we are working with FIFA and the LOC to make this tournament a huge success for all involved.”

We are excited to announce that Houriya Taheri, the first Emirati woman to obtain an "A" coaching license from FIFA, will be one of our speakers at ICSW 2017. You can sign up for her workshop, Emirati Success Stories, through the link in our bio يسرنا أن نعلن أن حورية طاهري، أول مرأة إماراتية تحصل على رخصة التدريب من فئة A من الفيفا، ستكون أحد متحدثينا في المؤتمر الدولي لرياضة المرأة 2017 خلال ورشة العمل بعنوان "قصص نجاح إماراتية". يمكنكم التسجيل لحضور ورشة العمل التي ستقدمها حورية الآن عبر الرابط أعلى الصفحة #ICSW2017#InspiringGenerations #FBMA #ADFBMA #MovingForward #AbuDhabi #InAbuDhabi #sports #sportswoman #athlete #arabathletes #football #womensfootball #womenssoccer #إلهام_الأجيال #المؤتمر_الدولي_لرياضة_المرأة #أكاديمية_فاطمة_بنت_مبارك_للرياضة_النسائية #نمضي_قدمًا #أبوظبي #في_أبوظبي #رياضة #رياضة_نسائية #نساء_رياضيات

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Al Taheri has joined FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG), a panel of experts who have studied matches for the last four decades, to learn and understand how matches are analysed.

“I love learning new things and being involved in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 with TSG in this capacity will help me develop a new set of skills that can hopefully benefit women’s football in the country in the long run,” she said.

20-year-old Nouf Al Anzi is part of the UAE women’s national football squad. She kicked around a football for most of her life and was an avid fan who attended the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 and 2010.

“I was the flag-bearer at the 2010 tournament and that had definitely a lot to do with why I am a professional footballer today,” said Al Anzi.

This year, the LOC has given 38 boys and girls the unique opportunity to be a part of the tournament as official flag-bearers or ball carriers as part of the Youth Leadership Programme.

“These are opportunities in life that can play a pivotal role in helping youngsters find their true passion,” added Al Anzi. “I was not only elated to be a flag-bearer but to have had the opportunity to watch my football heroes play live on the pitch right here in Abu Dhabi. It was magical.

“I would encourage all female football fans in the UAE to get behind the FIFA Club World Cup and support the continental champions who will be competing for the most prestigious club title next month.”

Six teams have qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup to date: Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club, Spain’s Real Madrid, New Zealand’s Auckland City FC, Mexico’s C.F. Pachuca and UAE’s Al Jazira. The final team will be determined when the Copa Libertadores final between Club Atletico Lanus and Gremio FootBall Porto-Alegrense concludes on Wednesday November 29.

Fans can take advantage of the tournament’s travel packages via www.fifa.com/uae2017.

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Winners and losers for Alberto Zaccheroni's UAE

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All together now: The UAE line-up against Uzbekistan (UAE FA).

With Alberto Zaccheroni’s opening pair of UAE matches now completed, a review will be under way to decide which players impressed and who are fighting for their future.

Here, Sport360° picks out two who shone and two who’ll be worried about their status moving forward after the 1-0 loss to Haiti and 1-0 triumph against Uzbekistan during this international break.

WINNERS

AMER ABDULRAHMAN

Minutes played: 180

Ennui caused by years of bad injuries and poor form is over. Midfielder’s positive play and aggressive tackling is key to 3-4-3 working, moving forward.

Value was shown by fact he started and completed both games.

Amer Abdulrahman (r).

Amer Abdulrahman (r).

JASSEM YAQOUB

Minutes played: 132

The first two UAE run-outs for the emerging Al Nasr forward went swimmingly. Ability to play across front line makes him an asset.

His task now is to ensure he is pushing for a starting spot when January 2019’s Asian Cup rolls around.

Jassem Yaqoub (r).

Jassem Yaqoub (r).

LOSERS

ABDULAZIZ SANQOUR

Minutes played: Zero

Days of holding right-back slot no matter fluctuating club form, thankfully, appear over.

Was called up, but deservedly played no minutes. Al Jazira’s Mohammed Fawzi has waited years to receive the faith shown in him by Zaccheroni.

Abdulaziz Sanqour (Getty).

Abdulaziz Sanqour (Getty).

AHMED AL ATTAS

Minutes played: 46

The injuries for Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout handed the young forward chances he simply failed to grasp, despite enthusiasm.

Showed difficulty faced by many footballers when they step-up from Under-21 level, where he has scored freely for the junior Whites.

Ahmed Al Attas (c).

Ahmed Al Attas (c).

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Khalid Essa says only way is up for UAE under new coach Alberto Zaccheroni

Matt Jones 12/11/2017
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Khalid Essa

The Alberto Zaccheroni era might have got off to a rocky start in the mountainous surroundings of Al Ain’s Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, but Khalid Essa believes the only way is up for the UAE once the players and new coach get on the same page.

The Whites were downed 1-0 by Haiti on Friday, but a tepid first half display made way for a stirring second half showing in which only the woodwork and Haiti goalkeeper Johny Placide prevented the Whites from winning.

Zaccheroni bemoaned a maiden defeat but praised his players’ efforts after going behind to a Mahmoud Khamis own goal, and pleaded for patience post-match. And Essa followed his coach’s lead, predicating progress once the players adapt to the Italian tactician’s style of play.

“As a person we are getting to know him and we are getting better, we are all in harmony together,” said Al Ain stopper Essa, who played the opening 45 minutes before being replaced at the break by Al Jazira keeper Ali Khaseif.

“We have a very good link with him as a person, but his tactics need time. We have always played 4-4-2 and now we are playing 4-3-3 and this takes time to adapt.

“Inshallah we will be better in the next match, there will be more harmony between the players and the new tactics and style.”

The hosts initially struggled to adapt to the new-look formation, with Al Ain playmaker Omar Abdulrahman often floating into central positions from his berth on the right of the attacking front three.

But after going behind in unfortunate circumstances, they found a footing and markedly improved, particularly after the break when a flurry of changes gave them an injection of pace and energy – with Jazira’s Khalfan Mubarak and Al Wahda’s Mohamed Al Akbari joining Al Nasr youngster Jassim Yaqoob on the field.

And Boss talisman Abdulrahman echoed his clubmate Essa and coach’s plea for patience.

“This was a good test for us,” said Abdulrahman. “We are working well with Zaccheroni and he needs more time, and we need more time to understand his tactics.”

After the debacle that was the Edgardo Bauza reign, Essa insisted the friendly result mattered little in comparison to the spirited second half performance, something that was not present in the Argentine’s fleeting time in charge.

“We played for the first time together under the new coach. Regardless of the result I think the team hasn’t performed like this, with spirit, for a long time,” said Essa, pointing to a more harmonious atmosphere within the camp and an improved relationship between players and management.

“They were fighting for every ball, we threatened the Haiti goal several times but we couldn’t score and scoring is the most important thing in any football match.

“Zaccheroni is a great coach, he’s had a good career and everyone knows he’s a big name in the football world. He deals very well with all players, he treats us equally. There is no big player and small player.”

The UAE next face Uzbekistan in Al Ain on Tuesday (17:00 KO).

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