Bani Yas coach Abdulwahab Abdulqadir is optimistic his players will gain inspiration from meeting the club chairman and keep their slim relegation hopes alive, beginning with Friday’s must-win match against Al Nasr.
The bottom side travel to the President’s Cup finalists, knowing they must pick up maximum points from their remaining three matches and retain faith results go their way if they want to preserve their spot in the Arabian Gulf League. The Sky Blues, who drew their last two matches, were addressed by chairman Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi earlier this week and Abdulqadir wanted his words to be taken on board.
“He gave a speech to the players and he requested them to double their efforts for this match,” he said. “As coach, I hope they can be inspired by his visit at the training ground because there’s still hope.”
Ittihad Kalba and Dibba Al Fujairah sit directly above the drop zone, both on 18 points – five more than Bani and Emirates Club. Wins for either will secure their top-flight status.
Yo-yo club Kalba face a pivotal clash at second-bottom Emirates, while Dibba – who haven’t triumphed in five games – host high-flying Al Wasl.
Al Shabab boss Miroslav Djukic will be looking for a debut victory at the 10th time of asking in all competitions, at home to Al Dhafra.
18:00 Al Shabab v Al Dhafra
20:45 Dibba Al Fujairah v Al Wasl
20:45 Emirates Club v Ittihad Kalba
20:45 Al Nasr v Bani Yas
18:00 Hatta v Al Jazira
18:00 Al Ahli v Sharjah
20:45 Al Ain v Al Wahda
Dubai Sports City became a field of dreams this weekend as promising players from around the world competed at the inaugural U13 Dubai Intercontinental Football Cup 2017.
Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and AC Milan were the headline entrants to a tournament – partnered by La Liga, Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Television – which contained 12 sides from across the globe and 216 participants. Fittingly for an event which was the brainchild of Spain legend Michel Salgado and represented the fruition of four years hard work establishing his Spanish Soccer Schools [SSS] in DSC, former clubs Madrid and Vigo played out a gripping Gold Cup final.
A stunning curled goal from MVP Robert Carril – his shaggy mop and refined attacking technique reminiscent of Manchester City superstar David Silva – secured a 1-0 triumph for Celticos in front of more than 200 watching friends, family and fans. For defeated coach Carlos Del Rey, it is now key that success at an early age does not quell desire to “learn every day” as the developmental path to hallowed first-team football remains a long one.
He said: “They are 13. They have to enjoy now, not think about professionalism.
“They must live the day. They must grow up in the day and not think in four or five years, we will be in Under-19 club of Real Madrid.”
The usual powers did not entirely dominate, even though Madrid’s Yeray Lancha Perez was top scorer and Celta’s Carril the best player.
AFA Angola’s Cristovao Cantungue was judged top goalkeeper, his clean sheet against Milan seeing the Africans finish third. SSS were thrashed 4-0 by Madrid in the groups, but improved to beat Dubai CSC 2-1 in the Plate Cup showpiece.
Dubai is not traditionally seen as a football hotbed, but the city’s IJF Youth Academy helped produce Maltese midfielder Andrea Borg, 17, who debuted in English League One with Peterborough United this month. German goalkeeper Fabian Speiss and South African defender Keiran Geldenhuys were also signed by Notts County in 2010 and 2012.
More than 1,200 kids play and train every week at SSS under the aegis of director Salgado and head coach Inaki Beni. The latter declared testing his charges against Europe’s best in events such as the Intercontinental Football Cup is key to strengthening this process.
He said: “If you want to play this game and understand how the game works, then Dubai is not enough.
“They played against Real Madrid. Every tackle, every duel was different and at a different speed.
“When I used to coach at Real Madrid, we used to say it was easier to get to the moon as an astronaut than become a first-team player.”
Salgado enjoyed an outstanding career which contained two Champions Leagues, four La Ligas and 53 caps for La Furia Roja.
For prospects in the UAE to stand a chance of replicating this, he argues more instances of expats and Emiratis competing such as in the Plate Cup decider are required.
He said: “We have got some of the kids who have been working with us for a long time and they have potential to play as professionals.
“The country now needs to realise that if you want to develop your kids, you must mix the best ones and compete together.”
Even at a young age, football can become all encompassing as parents and children imagine the adulation, riches and profile awarded to football’s finest. Yet Del Rey is at pains to point out that the enriching cultural experiences on offer last week remain key.
He said: “The kids have told us they are enjoying every experience. We went to the Burj Khalifa, so they are living new experiences.”
The UAE Football Association’s efforts to circumvent Reinaldo Rueda’s agent have further complicated an already-tangled bid to make him the nation’s next coach.
Rueda, 60, and recently-dismissed Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza, 59, emerged on Wednesday as the governing body’s leading options to replace Mahdi Ali.
The UAE FA have been notified in official documentation that the representative they must contact to complete any deal for Rueda is Pedro Pinto of Porto-based agency DNN Sport. But a range of favoured Middle Eastern middle men have been utilised to muscle in on the move, angering a candidate who is prepared to accept a $3 million per annum, three-year contract – which would cover all his staff – contrary to reports in his native Colombia that he intends to stick with Atletico Nacional.
Rueda – who led Honduras and Ecuador at the last two World Cups – is just one of a number of stellar clients listed on DNN Sport’s website, which includes Espanyol and ex-Al Ahli supremo Quique Sanchez Flores, Paris Saint-Germain’s Unai Emery plus former Middlesbrough tactician Aitor Karanka.
A yearly wage ceiling of approximately $3m has been set for the Whites post. Bauza’s decision to decrease his financial demands from an initial $8m to $4m makes him the current favourite.
Intriguingly, both Rueda and Bauza could already have been working in the Emirates.
The former was judged too expensive by Bani Yas last summer before their disastrous appointment of Uruguay’s Pablo Repetto, whom he beat in the 2016 Copa Libertadores final.
For Bauza, he ignored overtures from Al Wasl at the same time to bank on Argentina swooping him up from Brazil’s Sao Paulo. Although he was hired by La Albiceleste in August 2016, his tenure was terminated after eight months because of poor results.
The UAE are next in action on June 13 in Thailand. They sit fourth in the third-and-final round of World Cup 2018 qualifiers, one place outside the progression spots.