x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Ain's footballing future is looking bright

Al Ain Under 11 side finished one point clear of Al Jazira and Al Ahli, scoring 86 times in the season, with striker Fahid Al Ghaithi finishes the season with 45 goals.

Al Ain Under 11 side finished one point clear of Al Jazira and Al Ahli, scoring 86 goals in the season.
Al Ain Under 11 side finished one point clear of Al Jazira and Al Ahli, scoring 86 goals in the season.

The Under 11 side at Al Ain provided a fillip for the senior team ahead of their Pro League title decider with Al Jazira this week by clinching the Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Championship title ahead of their Abu Dhabi rivals.

Mohammed Belkhodja's team lost the last match of the season, 3-2 to Al Wasl, but still manage to pip Jazira, who finished second by a point, and Al Ahli to the title after winning 17 of their 24 matches.

Al Ain average nearly four goals per game and more than half of their 86-goal tally were scored by Fahid Al Ghaithi who finished the season with 45.

Given the dearth of Emirati strikers, he is likely to feature prominently on the radar of national youth team coaches if he continues to score at this rate.

He could one day find himself partnering Khalfan Mubarak in the national team. Mubarak, 17, scored five in the recent Al Ain International Juniors Championship.

At club level Al Ghaithi will look up to Yousuf Ahmed, the U17 striker who caught the eye of the Manchester City coach while he was in the UAE.

Issa Darwish proved a useful foil for Al Ghaithi in the U11 league and scored 16 times while Saif Al Aryani and Ali Dehiman registered seven each.

Jasim Tawfiq, the administrator of the team, felt the success of the youngsters, who recovered from 10th after the first round of matches, was based on an environment created by Belkhodja which does not put any pressure on his players.

Hisham Surour, Al Ain football school technical supervisor, said: "Last season we finished the league in the fifth place and we even started with shy steps, but we progressively moved on in the second round where the team started applying all we wanted of field techniques, commitment, control, and acute accurate passes.

"What made the difference this season were the players on bench who are excellent indeed like Saif Al Aryani, Mohamed Khalid and others.

"I think the first round was a training session but in the second one all players got ready. In fact, Al Ain club management asked to keep the pressure off the players by not asking them for victories."

Surour went on to stress the importance of education. "[They must concentrate on] their study since it is also important. If a player did bad at school his family will never allow him to train until he does well at school which happened to some players by the end of the first round."

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