ABU DHABI // The national football team has been welcomed at Al Rawda Palace in Al Ain by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, following their victory at the Gulf Cup in Bahrain.
The players beat Iraq 2-1 to clinch the title last night and are today at the Al Ain palace.
Television pictures showed the President smiling and laughing as he greeted the triumphant team, who proudly wore their UAE scarves. Sheikh Khalifa then posed for numerous photographs with individual players, who stood alongside him holding the prestigious trophy.
It has also been announced that the team is to receive Dh12 million for claiming their second Gulf Cup title.
Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Saeed, sons of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, granted the money in appreciation of the achievement, according to the state news agency WAM.
The UAE Football Association (UAEFA) said this morning they had dedicated the Gulf Cup title to the leadership and the people of the UAE, as well as the team's fans.
The president of the UAEFA, Yousef Al-Serkal, said the cup was dedicated to leaders in recognition of their huge support of sports and the team, and to the fans who backed the team and contributed to making the remarkable achievement.
"Although this win is earned by the UAE, it is Pan-Gulf [Khaliji] for me, and peoples of other Gulf nations too have the right to celebrate it with us. I thank the people of the UAE and fans who have strong belief in the players' abilities," Mr Al-Serkal said as he lifted the trophy at the National Stadium in Manama on Friday night.
The UAE's coach, Mahdi Ali, said: "I am proud of being the first national coach to lead the UAE to claim their Gulf Cup title, for the second time ever, and for the first time abroad. I am extremely happy that I am the first Emirati to lead our team to this victory. It is really wonderful."