x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Adel al Hosani an able deputy between posts for club and country

The Al Wahda goalkeeper says he wants to be the first-choice goalkeeper for Al Wahda and the UAE Under 23 team on merit, not because of injuries to others.

Adel al Hosani progressed to the first team of both Al Wahda and the Under 23 Olympic side quicker than he would have expected due to injuries to others.
Adel al Hosani progressed to the first team of both Al Wahda and the Under 23 Olympic side quicker than he would have expected due to injuries to others.

If Adel al Hosani had been given a choice in the matter, he would not have moved into the first team with Al Wahda and then the UAE Olympic team because of injuries to the players ahead of him.

But to the 21-year-old goalkeeper's credit, he did not fail the test when teammates suffered misfortune and he was called upon to make the step up.

It happened first more than a year ago with Al Wahda, who went on to win the Pro League championship with al Hosani in goal. And now it has happened with the Under 23 team hoping to represent the country at the 2012 London Games.

"I want to be the first choice on merit," he said. "Injuries are not unusual in any sport, but I don't wish that to happen to any of my colleagues so I get an opportunity to play."

He got a sudden promotion at Wahda when the veteran Mutaz Abdulla, who was signed on a two-year contract from Al Ain, suffered a broken ankle in the first match of the 2009/10 season.

Al Hosani took over. Wahda lost only twice and conceded just 15 goals in 22 games on the way to their fourth championship.

That title made them the host team in the 2010 Club World Cup, and al Hosani was selected ahead of the veteran Abdulla, 36, as the first choice for all three of Wahda's matches in the Fifa event.

"What happened to Mutaz was very unfortunate and I don't wish that to happen to any player," al Hosani said.

He continued to play as the first choice for his club until late in the first half of the current season. In eight matches, he conceded 11 goals and had three clean sheets.

Abdulla was restored to No 1 in December when he regained full fitness, relegating al Hosani to the bench.

"As an understudy to Mutaz, I learnt a lot from his experience. Then the opportunity to play for the first team for almost the full season gave me the exposure that I needed," said al Hosani. "And my time in the club's first team was noticed by the national team selectors."

Al Hosani was a member of the Asian Games silver medal-winning team in China last November and has been picked as the first choice for the 2012 London Games qualifiers by Mahdi Ali, the Emirati coach.

But even this is tinged with regret for al Hosani. The chance came along when Yousuf Abdulrahman, the Al Ain keeper, the previous first-choice custodian for the Olympic team, was badly hurt in a car crash last year; he is still recovering from serious injuries.

"I don't wish such things to happen because Yousuf is a good friend of mine and I hope he recovers fast and plays football again," al Hosani said.

The Wahda shot-stopper travelled to the Asian Games as the back-up goalkeeper to Ali Kasheif, who was one of the three overage players and captain of that team.

"All those opportunities have helped me to learn more," al Hosani said.

"I have learnt a lot from Mutaz, Ali Kasheif and Yousuf, who have all readily provided me with valuable advice and encouragement.

"The competition for the same place in the team is very healthy. It makes one work harder.

"But injuries, particularly the nasty ones suffered by Mutaz and Yousuf, don't go down well for me. Mutaz has recovered and, quite honestly, I don't mind playing the secondary role to him in the club team and I wish Yousuf will get back soon."

Al Hosani's career began at the Al Wahda academy with his older brother, Ali. They are both goalkeepers but Adel won the race to play in the top flight. "I can't judge myself as the better goalkeeper but it seems I have won the battle over him for the bragging rights," the younger al Hosani said.

"There is no competition between us. He is also in the first team, and with Mutaz as the senior pro, we complement each other to have a strong presence in the goalkeeping department."

Khaled Awadh, a long-time member of the club's administration and now the deputy chief executive, said he has known the al Hosani bothers for more than 10 years.

"They have both come through the club's production lines," he said. "Adel obviously has impressed more than Ali, and that's why he has jumped ahead of his older brother in the pecking order.

"He was given an early start in the top-flight competition and has established his position in the first team."

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, has high regard for the youngster.

He said: "Adel has been outstanding the whole season. He was one of the key players for us to win the Pro League last season.

"He was called up for duty from the very first game and he got better and better as the season progressed.

"He is very young for a goalkeeper and if he continues the way he works, he has a bright future ahead of him."

Klaus Lindenberger, the former Austria international and a national team goalkeeper coach for the European championship side in 2008, shared similar sentiments.

He said: "He has very good technique, good reaction and anticipation. He just needs to improve on his positioning, which will come with a little bit of work and match experience."

Al Hosani admits he is still learning. And his willingness to push himself to greater heights has already seen him achieve much at a young age.

"There is no easy way to the top," he said. "I am always willing to learn from my coach and teammates and given the opportunities I have had, the strengths will prove useful in my career path in the years to come."