x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Future looks golden for UAE

Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi has been flooded with congratulatory messages since the UAE's AFC Under 19 Championship win against Australia.

Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi has been flooded with congratulatory messages since the UAE's comprehensive win over Australia in semi-finals of the AFC Under 19 Championship. The UAE Football Association president is in Dammam, but his phone has been ringing continuously. A carnival atmosphere reigns at the team hotel and there has been a steady stream of visitors, all praising the performance of the young "White" brigade and offering their support for tonight's title-clash against Uzbekistan. The young guns of the UAE have earned many admirers for the football they have played during their unbeaten foray to the final.

"Our team deserved to reach the final and they deserve to win the title for the beautiful football they have played," Rumaithi said. "We have clearly been the best side in the tournament and I am not the only one saying that. All the neutral observers have told me that and praised the team for their dazzling performances. "We have won every game and not even Uzbekistan can claim the same success. Our performances are just a prelude to our crowning as worthy champions."

If the UAE beat Uzbekistan tonight, they will return home to a heroes' welcome. Rumaithi hopes it will be the first of many such homecomings in the future. "These players, through their dedication and determination, have elevated the status of the UAE football," he said. "Their persistence and strength is an indication that a great future lies ahead. We look forward to that era. This generation is the pride of the nation."

arizvi@thenational.ae