x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Emirates' heroes of Italia '90

It is almost 20 years since UAE played in a World Cup finals. The National finds out where those players are now.

Top: (left to right) Khalil Ghanim, Mossain Mossaba, Ali Thani, Khalid Ismail, Nasser Khamis, Yousef Hussain. Bottom: Hussein Ghoroum, Abdulrahman Mohammed, Adnan Talyani,  Eisa Meer, Ibrahim Meer.
Top: (left to right) Khalil Ghanim, Mossain Mossaba, Ali Thani, Khalid Ismail, Nasser Khamis, Yousef Hussain. Bottom: Hussein Ghoroum, Abdulrahman Mohammed, Adnan Talyani, Eisa Meer, Ibrahim Meer.

Carlos Alberto Parreira is one of only two coaches to have led four different teams to a World Cup: Kuwait (1982), Brazil (1994 and 2006), Saudi Arabia (1998) and the UAE (1990). The Brazilian was earlier this year re-appointed as coach of South Africa after quitting last year to be with his wife, who is battling cancer.

Mossain Mossaba was widely acclaimed for his heroic performance in the UAE's final qualifying match with Korea in 1989 - the match that secured the Falcons qualification to Italia '90. He was first-choice goalkeeper for Sharjah and he later went on to act as director of football for the club. Today, he is a regular analyst on Abu Dhabi Sports channel.

Khalil Ghanim, whose brother Mubarak was also in the UAE squad, is remembered as one of the best defenders the country have produced. Plying his trade at Al Khaleej, the centre-half shunned the limelight and, after suffering a heart attack last year, he continues to remain out of the public eye. Yousef Hussain was a determined centre-half who played for Sharjah during the 1980s. After hanging up his boots he acted as technical director for the FA for two years, but has since stepped away from football. Eisa Meer, whose twin brother also represented the national side, was a reliable defender who played for the UAE throughout the 1980s, after featuring prominently for Sharjah. He now helps makes the decisions at Sharjah, as a member of the board. Ibrahim Meer, brother of Eisa, was a speedy left-back who played with his brother for Sharjah in the 1980s. He continues to reside in Sharjah, where he now works for the emirate's police force.

Ali Thani was a rampaging midfielder who scored the UAE's other goal at the 1990 World Cup. The former Sharjah midfielder no longer has any affiliation with one club, but is often used as an analyst on sports shows in the Emirates. Nasser Khamis, brother of the UAE's legendary striker Fahid Khamis, was a midfielder at Al Wasl. He continues to work there as a coach of the under 14 side and is one of the fittest former players to take part in the annual Old National Team's tournament. Hussein Ghoroum may have come from a family of footballers, but the left-footer arguably excelled more than any of his predecessors. The midfielder played for Sharjah, and now acts as trainer to the club's youth teams, working with the under 15s and below. Abdulrahman Mohammed was a midfielder for Al Nasr. Captaining the UAE, he won 85 caps and claimed the Player of the Year Award in 1986. He works for Showtime as a pundit, as well as working at the Dubai Government's immigration offices in Jebel Ali.

Khalid Ismail was one of the UAE's two goalscorers at Italia '90. A striker with Al Nasr, he now works at Dubai International Airport in Jebel Ali, which is under construction. He is also an agent, helping to bring players and coaches to the Emirates. Adnan Talyani played for Al Shaab and is arguably the best striker in the UAE's history. Without their star forward the Falcons would never have qualified for Italia '90. Voted the UAE's Player of the Century, Talyani was with the FA when the Emirates won the Gulf Cup in 2007. He now does irregular TV work.