DUBAI, Shabab Al Ahli will be flying the UAE flag as one of four semi-finalists of the 9th U16 Dubai International Football Championship square off on Wednesday evening at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Al Mamzar.
Shabab Al Ahli, who finished second in Group A behind 2016 champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia will take on Brazilian powerhouses and defending champions Flamengo in the second match of the evening after the semi-final between Hilal and Atletico Madrid.
The Dubai club made the last four at the expense of 2016 finalist Borussia Dortmund, holding the Germans to a 0-0 draw in the final group game, which decided the second semi-finalist from Group A. The draw meant Shabab Al Ahli finished with four points, two more than Dortmund, while Hilal, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Al Wasl in their last match, topped the table with even points.
Khalid Mohammed, the Shabab Al Ahli coach, said, “Qualifying for the semi-final was our first objective from this tournament and we have ticked the box. Reaching the last four, however, is not the end of our ambitions.”
“We know we have a huge task ahead of us. Flamengo has looked unstoppable, both when they came here last year and again in the three matches they have played until now. They have scored 18 goals and have not conceded even one. That should tell you how strong they are,” he added.
The Shabab Al Ahli coach expressed his optimism, adding that every match is different, “and the result of our semi-final will be decided by how the team play in the 90 minutes on Wednesday evening. So we remain optimistic. Again, we know the challenge we face, but we will give it our best.”
Al Nasr also had a chance of qualifying for the last four, but they needed a win against Atletico Madrid in their final group game to make it to the knockout stages. The Spaniards, however, won the match 3-0, to book a semi-final with Hilal.
Meanwhile, Amer Belhasa, Chairman of Emirates Driving Institute Group and Vice Chairman of Belhasa Group, one of the strategic partners of the tournament has urged motorists to show the same discipline and respect for rules as sportsmen show in competition.
“A strong sense of fairness, respect for rules, courtesy and patience are qualities that are admired throughout sportsmanship and they also happen to be the cornerstones of safe, mature driving. Self-discipline and self-control are crucial components to both. There is absolutely no place for aggression, selfishness or rudeness, whether it is on a sports pitch or on the public road.”
Source: Emirates News Agency