A tit-for-tat row between 2016 AFC Champions League finalists Al Ain and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors has seen this weekend’s visitors change training base, repeating the Boss’ behaviour from South Korea.
The Green Warriors are believed to have departed for Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace, where they will be at until Wednesday night.
They were reportedly unhappy about the condition of the adjoining pitches allocated at Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium, their host’s usual training venue, in which they practiced at 16:30 on Monday following their morning arrival in the UAE.
They were told the preferred facility at Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium – Al Ain’s home from 1987-2006 – was not ready until Thursday. This caused them to exit the Garden City, in a repeat of Al Ain’s behaviour before Saturday’s 2-1 first-leg loss.
Access to a field near the club’s Jeonju World Cup Stadium was granted upon arrival last Wednesday. But a lack of floodlights and a desire to train at night in order to experience conditions at kick-off meant this was deemed unacceptable.
An alternative location was sourced by Al Ain in response.
Thursday evening’s run-out then occurred at Wolmyeong Stadium in Sa Jung-Dong, Gunsan, which is more than one hour’s journey by car from their original location.
The two teams are set to meet on Saturday for the decider at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
For the first time, it will enable UAE Football Club academies the chance to play competitive matches against top private football academies across the nation.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at the UAE FA, attended by H.E. Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri, General Secretary UAE FA, Dr. Khalid M. Abdullah, Managing Director, Football Association Academy, Mr Ahmad Aburahima, Senior Vice President Government Relations du, and Hussein Murad, CEO, Inspiratus as well as officials from the UAE Football Association, Sports Councils and Educational Authorities and other invited guests.
du UAE FAAL will kick off in January 2017 and will be open to top private academies, allowing the UAE Football Club academies to compete in a nationwide championship.
This will help create a highly competitive platform through which top youth football players will be driven to raise their performance. Talented players will also have the opportunity to be discovered by scouts from national and international clubs who will be attending matches.
Speaking at the press conference, H.E. Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri said: “We strive to support the development of youth football players who live in the UAE from all nationalities. du UAE FAAL brings our vision to life and enables us to establish divisions and create a clear pathway of development for private academies.
“We are confident du UAE FAAL will change the face of youth football and create a platform for scouting talents from among UAE nationals and, for the first time, resident youth football players from across the country.”
Commenting on du UAE FAAL, Dr. Khalid M. Abdullah said: “The launch of this groundbreaking initiative comes at a time of growing focus on youth sports development, particularly football. It enables our youth to pursue their football aspirations through platforms such as du UAE FAAL and ensures that top footballers, both national and non-national, are gived the opportunity to be discovered. We look forward to kick off in January.”
Mr Ahmad Aburahima, Senior Vice President Government Relations du, which partners of du UAE FAAL, added: “With the success of the du Football Champions and launch of the du LaLiga High Performance Centre, the natural progression in our commitment to youth football across the UAE was to seek out a platform through which top talents not only from our initiatives, but those from across the UAE would have the opportunity to play competitive matches at world class standards. FAAL completes the cycle in youth football development across the UAE creating a clear pathway of progress of top youth footballers in the nation.”
The du UAE FAAL will be played across five age categories: U-18, U-16, U-14, U-12 and U-10 and will kick off its first season with the U-16 category in January 2017 with matches scheduled to be played across the UAE.
“It is an honor to be here at the du UAE FA Academy League launch which will offer the highest level of competition across the nation and provide the ideal ground for all talented youth, both nationals and residents, to step up their game and chase their dreams for football careers,” commented Hussein Murad, CEO Inspiratus Sports Experience and organizers of du UAE FAAL.
Besieged UAE boss Mahdi Ali has taken confidence from the fact that even three-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has not been immune to harsh criticism, ahead of Tuesday’s critical World Cup 2018 qualifier against Iraq.
Ali, 51, has been repeatedly questioned over his future after last month’s 3-0 embarrassment in Saudi Arabia caused serious damage to hopes of reaching Russia. These rumours have further stated a negative result in the pressurised clash at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium would see his historic four-year tenure brought to a close.
Speaking to the media, the Whites supremo revealed inspiration in the intervening weeks has been found in the way Real Madrid icon Cristiano Ronaldo has battled back from adversity during a celebrated career.
“Pressure is part of my job,” Ali said. “Before they asked (then Real Madrid coach) Jose Mourinho about the drop in Cristiano Ronaldo’s level and he said there’s not a discussion about the value of Cristiano Ronaldo, everybody knows he is a great player – best player in the world.
“But sometimes he suffers from a drop. This also happens to a coach.
“My duty is to recover very quickly from this and give a good performance and getting a good result will be very positive for me and the team. We will get back on the right path.”
The UAE come into Tuesday evening’s third-and-final round clash down in fourth. Only the top two from Group B will automatically proceed to the globe’s grandest sporting event, with the third-placed finishers fighting out to make the inter-confederation play-off.
Iraq – nicknamed the Lions of Mesopotamia – are one place and three points in arrears to them, with a chasmic 43 places the difference in the FIFA rankings from the 70th-positioned hosts.
But ex-Sharjah defender Radhi Shenaishil’s men come in with boosted confidence after now Al Nasr forward Muhannad Abdulraheem scored all four goals during last month’s 4-0 thrashing of Thailand.
“The defeat against Saudi Arabia of course affected the morale of the UAE team,” said the coach, who won 80 caps for his country. “But pressure is not only on them. It is on all the teams, even the top teams like Saudi and Japan.
“If they get any defeats or draws, they will suffer the same pressure. Pressure also is on us as we have lost points.
“If the UAE get a positive result they can play more comfortably, but now they have some pressure. Both teams will play for the win.”