Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
At 25 years of age, Eisa Ahmed missed out on the London Olympic squad.
At 25 years of age, Eisa Ahmed missed out on the London Olympic squad.

Olympics hurt is Eisa Ahmed's motivation at Al Wahda

Ignored by Mahdi Ali, the full-back is out to 'work hard and improve for the future'.

Eisa Ahmed is the definition of the modern Emirati footballer. He is fluent in English, aspires to play in Europe and is active on social media - Twitter handle, @Eissa_Santo28.

The Al Wahda full-back contributed to his side's 2010 Pro League championship, was part of the 2011 Super Cup-winning side and has seen action in two Asian Champions League campaigns.

He again is a regular for the Abu Dhabi club, comfortable anywhere across the back line, but his most fervent desire is to be recalled to the senior national team, with whom he has been capped seven times, and play in the 2015 Asian Cup, in Australia.

The UAE made history by qualifying and playing in the Olympics for the first time, but Ahmed was not part of Mahdi Ali's squad.

"Every player wishes to be on the Olympic team. However, with not being selected I do not feel like less of a player," Ahmed said. "It just makes me want to work harder and improve myself for future opportunities that may arise.

"I was not disappointed but just a little bit confused that Mahdi Ali did not call me to discuss this subject," he said.

Mahdi Ali has been tipped by many to make UAE competitive again and win a major trophy. He enjoyed success at London 2012 with the Olympic team, who led Luis Suarez's Uruguay at Old Trafford, were tied with Ryan Giggs' Great Britain with 20 minutes to play and drew with Senegal.

"I do not know Mahdi Ali as a person, but as a coach he has been effective in a positive way for the UAE Olympic team," Ahmed said.

"I am pretty sure he is one of the luckiest coaches out there to have such a fantastic team to work with. There is a huge chance for the UAE national team to achieve a major title since Mahdi Ali is combining the best of the players from the Olympic team and the first team."

Ahmed, at 25, is a few years older than the crop of standout Emiratis often known as the "golden generation", and to get back in the national side he would have to push aside one of them.

A thoughtful footballer, and the son of a star player usually known as "Eisa Santo", Ahmed has opinions of each of the major issues involving domestic and regional football.

He endorses the move to a 14-team league. "I agree with the expansion of the Pro League," he said. "In the recent years, we had less games and a lot of breaks in between which affects the players negatively, physically and mentally.

"Being a professional player, it is mandatory to play more games in order to achieve greater physical success so I do think more teams and higher intensity was a good decision."

He concedes that the leagues in Japan and South Korea have been the strongest in Asia for several years, in terms of quality of play, attendance and sponsorship income.

He believes the UAE can catch up, but it will take time. "I can't honestly say if the Pro League will be the best league in Asia, but it has the potential to be the best," he said.

"There is growing attention on the UAE Pro League and teams are working harder than ever.

"The investments into famous foreign players also invite more focus on to the teams from outside countries. People are starting to notice us now."


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 Yuzvendra Chahal, centre, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates celebrate after the bowlers set up an easy win over Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

Bowlers set up Bangalore as Patel stand tall over Mumbai

Mumbai bowlers gave early hope but Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers' unbeaten stand of 99 ensures second defeat for the men in blue in Dubai.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National