UAE football team must look beyond Olympics
WAM Dubai, 16th March 2012 (WAM) -- If consistency holds true then the UAE Under-23 football team's march to the London Olympic Games should go down as a memorable chapter in the country's footballing history, a UAE daily paper commented today.
''The brightest moment in UAE football came when the national team qualified for the World Cup in Italy in 1990. Since then the UAE has had mixed moments on the international stage, at both the national and club level,'' wrote Gulf News in its editorial today.
''The journey to qualify for the Olympics, however, began at least 25 years ago. It has been an exercise in courage, character and tenacity by players, fans, officials and administrators. On the way to London this team won the GCC Junior Championships (2006), the Asian Youth Championship (2008), the Asian Games silver medal (2010) and the GCC Under-23 Championship (2010),''it added.
''Needing only a draw to qualify against Uzbekistan, they found themselves down by two goals and then displayed amazing determination to overcome their rivals. The will to succeed against all odds is the hallmark of this band of footballers. They have wiped out the memories of the failed 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. Many are arguing that this is �the national team' and optimism is high that they will be more successful in the future.
''The UAE's triumph also underscored a very important fact: success doesn't have to come by importing personnel. The authorities have to study Emirati coach Mahdi Ali's impressive resume as this team has registered one accomplishment after another to assess that, perhaps, he is the man who can chart the course for this squad. Ali personifies the ambitions and dreams upon which this country was formed. His work ethic and dedication is second to none.
'' It is important to view this team's campaign in London with pragmatism. A medal is there for the taking, thanks to their never-say-die attitude, but more importantly the UAE Football Association should start looking beyond the Olympic Games. The sky is the limit,'' the Gulf News concluded.