Winger Loris Vago, 18, had given the Serie A giants’ youth team the lead in the 15th minute on Tuesday. The depleted Red Knights – missing eight UAE internationals, who are at a summer camp in Spain – then rallied after the break, Dh70m)record-buy Sow and 19-goal Lima scoring tap-ins to seal the victory.
“It was a difficult match against a respected side from Asia,” coach Stefano Vecchi declared to Inter Channel.
“It was even more tricky because of the pitch, but despite the result we saw some positive things. We’ve got many new players but our spirit was right and for now that’s fine.
“We will have to work on the physical and tactical side of things ahead of next season. From today onwards, we will be focusing more on the details.”
Ahli had taken to the field with just their reserves, but coach Cosmin Olaroiu threw on their four-man foreign quota after the break. UAE Under-21 winger Walid Ambar also featured, despite his refusal to ink fresh terms.
The UAE’s youngsters can only improve after being dealt a harsh lesson by Iraq during their preparations for September’s 2016 AFC U-16 Championship, according to coach Abdul Majeed Al Nimr.
Al Nimr’s side went down to a chastening 3-0 loss to the Lion Cubs of Mesopotamia on Friday in Dubai. This match marked the end of an internal training camp before the nation’s brightest prospects headed off to Slovenia today to continue the build-up to the continental competition – which acts as a qualifier for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – which kicks-off in September.
Ali Ahmed Radi and Mohammed Jaber goals put the visitors to the UAE Football Association’s headquarters in Al Khawaneej 2-0 up, with Ahmed Omar sealing it via a 80th-minute penalty. “My impressions of the match are useful regardless of the outcome,” Al Nimr insisted. “It gives the coaching staff a lot of positive and negative points that will be very useful for us.”
The UAE have been drawn against hosts India, Iran and Saudi Arabia in Group A for the 16-team competition, which is to take place in Goa from September 15-October 2. This is a vital period for Al Nimr’s boys, with a top-four finish guaranteeing progression to next year’s global event irregardless of how India, who will put on that tournament as well, get on.
Al Nimr believed his side can only get better after the Iraq defeat.
He said: “The good thing is that we played today against a good team which has good physical ability. This contributes to increasing the power and understanding among our players.
“This will contribute a lot in the preparation of the team and make us better in time for the finals.”
The team, comprising of duFC top talents and winners from the UAE Schools Cup boys Under-16 and UAE Streets competitions, will play against Malaga, Real Betis, Cordoba and Sevilla. The squad is made up of 32 players from 16 different countries, including the UAE, France and Lebanon.
The team underwent a month-long training regime in May with La Liga coaches and trainers from Talise spa in Dubai, with opportunities to become professional footballers a possibility.
Fahad Al Hassawi, du chief commercial officer, said: “The du Football Champions was created to enable the UAE’s finest young footballers the opportunity to be discovered and pursue their dreams.”
The first match will be on Friday against Sevilla, with the final game against Malaga, the top youth team in Spain, on July 30.
Hussein Murad, CEO of Inspiratus, duFC organisers, added: “Over the past few weeks and months, these young players have worked very hard for what could be a truly life-changing experience.”
The journey for the players began with the UAE Streets and Schools Cup last October. 70 boys were selected to attend a clinic before the top 20 joined the 12 players from the two duFC winning teams, to make up the final 32.