The last day of du Football Champions (duFC)’s Abu Dhabi group stages took place this week, with top teams across age categories in the UAE Schools and Streets cups facing off for a place in the knockout stages.
Over 300 young footballers participated in the new U12 category, which was created to give the opportunity to be discovered by La Liga scouts.
British School Al Khubariat’s Robert March shone in the new category, leading his team to the top of their group. Among the others who may have caught the eye of La Liga scouts were U16 player Mohamed Tarek, U14 footballer Ameen Yazi, and March’s fellow U12 players Yousef Mohammed, Mustafa Mohammed, and Abdelrahman Ahmad.
Those young talents who are selected will be invited to join the du La Liga High Performance Centre.
The U16 category also saw some of the closest matches, as Al Dhafra Private School and British School Al Khubairat contested fiercely for top spot in their group. They played out a superb 1-1 draw when they met, and Al Dhafra ultimately topped the group only on goal difference. Raha International School and Al Najah School were the other teams to advance to the knockouts.
British School Al Khubairat showed their pedigree across age categories, with both the U14 and U12 sides qualifying for the knockout stages.
The championships also feature the UAE’s largest football tournament for girls, the UAE Girls Challenge, with International Community School, Cambridge High School, AISA, and Regional Sports qualifying from the group stages after some superb displays of skill and technique.
In the UAE Streets Cup, goals ruled the day, with a whopping 78 scored across the U16 and U14 categories.
Girls from all over the world took centre stage at The Global Village Under-12 football tournament on Sunday evening.
The tournament, hosted by Global Village in support of grassroots football in the UAE, saw eight schools/academies registered for the U12 group and they were split into two groups of four.
Al Mizhar American Academy and Zabeelers Football Academy came out on top in the two semi-finals to progress to the finals, which will take place on Saturday 24th February.
Check out the video above to find out more about the grassroots event.
Head coach Laurentiu Reghecampf insists the AFC Champions League is still important for Al Wahda but stressed he may have to rotate his squad and “protect their players” so they remain competitive in all competitions this season.
The Clarets host Qatar’s Al Duhail, leaders of their domestic league, on Monday evening with Wahda looking to bounce back from their 5-0 thrashing to Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent in their opening match a week ago.
Reghecampf fielded a weakened team with top-scorer Sebastian Tagliabue, defender Rim Chang-woo and attacker Mourad Batna among the players that did not travel for that fixture.
The Romanian confirmed he has a full squad to choose from for Monday’s game, but also stressed he will rest players if they are not 100 per cent fit – no matter the competition.
“Let’s finish this conversation because I don’t like to explain it every time. I told all of you that we take it game by game and it’s not about the league, cup or Asia,” said Reghecampf, whose side sit second in the Arabian Gulf League and are still in the President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup.
“It’s about our team and players. They are the ones who have to play. It’s not easy for them to play every three days. Sometimes we have players who are injured or sick and not 100 per cent fit to play the game. That’s why we have to make the team what we think is best. We cannot force the players to suffer more injury in any competition. We have to protect our players and see our targets.”
His side face a stern test against a free-scoring Al Duhail side who have scored 64 goals in their league so far. They are searching for their second successive victory after brushing aside Zob Ahan 3-1 last week but Tagliabue is convinced they enough firepower to cause them problems.
“The tournament is very difficult and we cannot look at the past now, we only have to look at tomorrow,” said the Argentine. “Every day is a new game. We have had eight months to prepare ourselves. I’m sure by the end of tomorrow we will get the three points.”