Scores of young footballers preparing for the exciting knockout stages of the inaugural Emirates Islamic National School League Football season were put through their paces by Eintracht Frankfurt coaches in Abu Dhabi.
With the quarter-finals of the NSL Football Under-16 and Under-14 kicking off at the end of the month, it was a priceless opportunity for a specially selected group of players to net some advice.
Among those putting the youngsters through their paces in the backdrop of the capital’s spectacular Emirates Palace was Eintracht Frankfurt and Bundesliga legend Karl-Heinz Korbel.
The 61-year-old holds the record for most Bundesliga appearances (602) ever made, every single one of which was played in the red and black of The Eagles in a distinguished career that saw him win four DFB Pokkal’s (German Cups) as well as the 1980 UEFA Cup between 1972 and 1991.
Mohammed Waleed, who will be lining up for Delhi Private School, Dubai, on January 30 at The Sevens as his side take on New Indian Model School Al Ain, said he hopes the session with Korbel and his fellow coaches can help fire DPS to NSL glory.
“We are confident we can go all the way,” said the 15-year-old.
“It was a great experience with the coaches, who are such professionals. A training session like this can help us, definitely. We can practice these drills back with the team and perhaps it could help us with our goal of achieving NSL glory.
“We’ve had a great tournament so far, we lost just once and came second, and we are looking forward to the quarter-finals. Our season is still very much alive and we’re excited about that. Let’s hope we win.”
Hadhi Bashir has been one of the stars of the tournament so far this season and he will be hoping to light up the knockout stages and lead Abu Dhabi Indian School into the last four when they meet Salman Farsi School in a few weeks.
“We are excited for the quarter-finals. We are confident for the win. We have to win this cup. That’s the aim,” said the 14-year-old Al Wahda academy prospect.
“We were happy to come top of the league and beat Al Yasmina School, who are a really good team, but it’s not over. It’s important for us to win the first NSL football tournament. It would be a really good moment for us.
“We will play I have heard Salman Farsi are really good, they have really good attackers and defenders. We’ve played well so far but in the quarter finals it will be the best eight teams in the tournament and I am hoping for our best moment and to win all the games.”
So what did one of Germany’s greatest ever domestic defenders make of the talent on offer?
“We came here last year and now we are here this year and so far this has been the best group of players that I’ve seen here,” said Korbel, who won six caps for West Germany and now runs Eintracht’s academy.
“If I could have more time with these kids, to prepare them, then I am confident that I could get the title if I worked with some of them.
“In general though they still make some mistakes. They need to play a little bit calmer and not lose the ball as quickly.
“There’s a lot going on mentally and they are very enthusiastic. They have passion and will, which are two very important components when you go onto the pitch.”
The two-day training camp, held while the Bundesliga giants are enjoying a trip to the UAE during Germany’s winter break, was supported by sponsors Daman, who have played an important role in using their medical insurance expertise to help youngsters compete safely in the NSL.
Each school taking part in the competition nominated two players for the camp, with Sport360 selecting the final list of 60.
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