x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Khalil eager for tests against Arsenal and Chelsea

The Al Ahli forward Faisal Khalil is looking forward to testing himself against Arsenal and Chelsea as part of his side's pre-season training.

The Al Ahli forward Faisal Khalil is looking forward to testing himself against Arsenal and Chelsea as part of his side's pre-season training. Ahli, who are in Austria, will head to England next week where the Dubai club plan to play five friendly games, and are talking to Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea as well as the League One team Southampton. The Red Knights, who won the Pro League last season, played against Arsenal and Tottenham last summer.

Khalil hopes outings against strong English opposition will give his club a boost ahead of a season where they will bid to defend their title and also represent the UAE in the Asian Champions League and Club World Cup. "We will be playing some strong friendly matches and that will give us an indication of where we need to work," he said. "I think we are playing against Arsenal and Chelsea during our London trip. They are two of the strongest clubs in the world and we could learn so much from them. A good game against them will set the tone for the rest of the season.

"We will be playing in the Club World Cup, so these tough friendly games will be really beneficial." Ahli will start their campaign on Sept 14 against the President's Cup winners Al Ain in the season-opening Super Cup. A week later they will begin the defence of their league title, with the Emirates Cup, President's Cup, AFC Champions League and the Club World Cup to follow. "Every team will be trying their best to beat us." said Khalil. "The defending champions are almost a hated figure in Arab leagues. So we will need to be a lot tougher, especially mentally."

@Email:arizvi@thenational.ae