Omar Al Duri, a renowned fitness and nutrition expert based in the UAE, has been called up for international duty with the Ghana national football team at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The London-born UAE resident, who co-founded Platform 3 gym in Dubai Marina and has recently been campaigning for healthier lunches at schools across the UAE, is now charged with making sure the Ghana squad are in the best shape possible to challenge for World Cup glory.
Al Duri will ensure the team is in peak physical condition, through a specially tailored training regime, physiotherapy and a strictly controlled diet.
With their first game on Saturday 30th May against a tough Austrian side, and with 2007 champions Argentina also in their group, Ghana will need to be not only in their best form, but their best physical shape.
Al Duri has gained an international reputation for his work in the UAE where he prides himself on getting the best out of people using physiotherapy, personal training and nutrition, and the Ghana FA have seen how his talent and expert advice is vital to their World Cup ambitions.
Earlier this year at the African Youth Championships held in Senegal, the team excelled and Al Duri became a fundamental part of the coaching staff.
Ghana’s highly rated Yaw Yeboah, who is in the youth team at Manchester City and was voted the Most Valuable Player at the African Youth Championships earlier this year, is delighted to have Al Duri back in the Ghana camp at the World Cup.
— Omar Al-Duri (@Omaralduri) May 24, 2015
“Omar has been great for us,” Yeboah said. “He has motivated us and trained our bodies to cope at the highest level. The confidence we have knowing our bodies are up for the fight is something not to be underestimated.
“We know, walking out on to that pitch, that we are fitter than the other team, which is a huge boost.
“He is part of this squad, not just in making sure we are in the best physical condition but a friend for all of us too, and that is important at tournaments like this.”
Al Duri, who coaches women and men’s football teams in the UAE, is delighted to be able to play his part in the team’s progress.
“For me, working with such a great bunch of lads is such a joy,” Al Duri explained. “They are motivated, keen to impress and hard working.
Spirits are high at the camp as the team meet & discuss expectations for the @u20worldcup in New Zealand! First up a friendly with Colombia
— Omar Al-Duri (@Omaralduri) May 23, 2015
“My job is about making sure they are in the best shape possible, and combined with their natural skill, this is a team that will go far in the competition.”
Al Duri continued: “There are players in this squad who will be household names in the years to come, so it makes me enormously proud to play a part in their development and teach them the correct mentality about fitness and looking after yourself.”
Ghana are in Group B for the 2015 edition of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and will play their group games in both Wellington and Auckland.
The 2015 Under-20 World Cup will see new champions being crowned, as holders France, who won the tournament in 2013, did not qualify for this year’s event.
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Mario Balotelli vs Roberto Mancini
One of the most infamous clashes happened in Manchester City when Mario Balotelli and his ex-coach Roberto Mancini got physical during a training session.
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KARIM AL ZIANI vs EDIN DZEKO (Wolfsburg)
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The legendary status of the mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic slipped somewhat when things got heated between him and Oguchi Onyewu. Both were playing together in AC Milan in 2010, and they ended up throwing punches at each other. An official club statement confirmed the incident but mentioned that the two players made peace.
LUIS SUAREZ vs MARTIN SKRTEL
ARJEN ROBBEN vs PHILIPP LAHM
Arjen Robben was on the receiving end of a harsh tackle from Philipp Lahm in training, and reacted rather angrily as he pushed the full-back. Team-mates intervened, though, to separate the pair.
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Danish beast Thomas Gravesen came to blows with ex-teammate Robinho in Real Madrid training, and it was bound to get ugly.
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Luis Figo and Michael van Praag pulled out of the race for the FIFA presidency, leaving controversial incumbent Sepp Blatter in a straight fight with Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al Hussein.
Former Portugal captain Figo withdrew with a bitter broadside at the contentious election campaign which will culminate in a vote on May 29 where Blatter is widely expected to hang on to a post he has held since 1998.
“I do not fear the ballot box, but I will not go along with nor will I give my consent to a process which will end on May 29 and from which soccer will not emerge the winner,” Figo wrote on his Facebook page.
“My decision is made, I will not stand in what is being called an election for the FIFA presidency.”
Dutch FIFA presidential candidate van Praag also announced he was dropping his bid, saying he will back Prince Ali instead.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) May 21, 2015
Van Praag, a former Ajax chairman announced his candidacy in January, saying he wanted to modernise the world governing body “which has lost all credibility.”
FIFA had become ridden with suspicion, conflicts of interest and allegations of nepotism and corruption, he said at the time.
Observers say Prince Ali stands the best chance to unseat Blatter because the Jordanian had a better campaign budget and contacts within FIFA, having served on its executive committee since 2011.
Figo used his Facebook announcement to also condemn what he believes are double-standards in football’s global ruling bodies.
“I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing FIFA leaders to the devil, then go on stage and compare those same people with Jesus Christ. Nobody told me about this. I saw it with my own eyes,” he wrote.
“The candidates were prevented from addressing federations at congresses while one of the candidates always gave speeches on his own from the rostrum.
“Does anyone think it’s normal that an election for one of the most relevant organizations on the planet can go ahead without a public debate?
Ali ‘biggest chance’
“Does anyone think it’s normal that one of the candidates doesn’t even bother to present an election manifesto that can be voted on May 29? Shouldn’t it be mandatory to present such a manifesto so that federation presidents know what they’re voting for?”
Van Praag, 67, said Prince Ali is “the biggest candidate” to unseat Blatter.
I am deeply honoured by Mr. Van Praag’s endorsement of my candidacy to become FIFA President.
— HRH Prince Ali (@AliForFIFA) May 21, 2015
“I do believe he is the biggest candidate to mobilise enough votes to challenge Sepp Blatter,” Van Praag said at a press conference in Amsterdam.
Van Praag said he decided to back Prince Ali on condition that a number of his proposals be taken up in the Jordanian royal’s own proposals.
This included human rights aspects for workers employed to build stadiums and limiting the mighty world federation’s presidency to two terms only.
The issue of workers’ rights has become a key feature of the campaign after a series of damning investigations into the welfare of labourers employed on construction projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Van Praag said the decision to pull out of the race was taken at a meeting in Geneva last week with UEFA president Michel Platini urging the three to back a single candidate.
“He (Platini) played a big role in getting us together,” Prince Ali said.
“As we have all seen around the world, there is a real desire for change and progress.
“I can’t predict right now… but if things are done in a correct way with no interference then I truly believe that we have a great chance of making that change.”
The election will be held at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.
The winner will need a majority from FIFA’s 209 member federations.
Blatter has received strong public backing from nearly every regional confederation except Europe’s UEFA.