x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Lots in store for UAE sports fans this 2014

Volvo Ocean Race, Abu Dhabi’s F1 finale and Abdulrahman’s protracted move abroad may materialise this coming 12 months.

UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman, right, has impressed scouts in Europe and a step in a new direction for the footballer is highly possible this year. AFP
UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman, right, has impressed scouts in Europe and a step in a new direction for the footballer is highly possible this year. AFP

UAE footballers look ahead

For Mahdi Ali and the UAE national team, 2014 will be all about 2015. The next 12 months promise to be a long period of preparation for the AFC Asian Cup in Australia in January of the following year.

The year 2013 brought Gulf Cup glory in Bahrain, swift qualification to Australia and a record-breaking sequence of 17 matches without defeat.

This year will be about the details. Improving a squad already on an impressively steep upward trajectory, and hoping several young players make a late bid to be included in the final 23.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cup of Nations in Saudi Arabia – likely to be at the end of the year – could provide pointers about the health and long-term future of Emirati football. And 2014 will once again be about the golden boy of Emirati football, Omar Abdulrahman.

Will it be the year he finally makes the big move abroad? Or will he stick it out at his beloved Al Ain? How much better can he get?

How his career pans out in 2014 will have a massive impact on the national team’s fortunes in 2015.

The sails are up and plans ready for a splash

The 2014/15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race race does not start until October, but already the conclusion of the second leg in Abu Dhabi is being eagerly anticipated.

In 2014, with new regulations stipulating that all teams sail the one-design Volvo Ocean 65 boat, hopes are high that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will improve on their 2011/12 showing, when they finished fifth out of six boats.

World Cup football comes to the UAE. Sort of …

It might be taking place on the other side of the world, and in an inconvenient time zone, but the World Cup in Brazil will be the UAE’s biggest sporting event of 2014.

There will be adverts starring Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar; the inevitable mad scramble to get a television subscription on time; and big screens broadcasting the action across the nation’s hotels. It is also time for football fans across the Emirates to take out those Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy shirts.

Formula One to go the distance in Abu Dhabi

In late November of 2014, Abu Dhabi will host the final race of the Formula One grand prix season.

The lustre of holding the last race has been tempered in the past by the championship having already been decided by that stage, as has happened 17 times in the last 27 years. But the 2014 race could well be different.

In the hope of keeping competition alive until the end, the season finale at Yas Marina Circuit will offer double the usual number of points for those finishing in the top 10. The 2014 season could turn out to be one of the more exciting in recent times. That, or Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing could have it all wrapped up by the halfway stage again.

A complete spread of sporting extravaganza

The UAE calendar is so packed with sporting events, we tend to take them for granted.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this month and Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, horse racing’s Dubai World Cup in March, and the Dubai Rugby Sevens later in the year, have all become as much social events as they are sporting competitions.

But keep an eye out for other sports on the rise as well.

Abu Dhabi is slowly becoming a hub for jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts events are taking off across the Emirates. And there is more to Yas Marina Circuit, and motorsports such as karting and endurance, than just the F1 race weekend.

For those who like to take part, there is the fleeting chance to literally rub shoulders with some of the world’s greatest runners at the 2014 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 24 before they disappear over the horizon.

Make the most of what 2014 has to offer.

akhaled@thenational.ae

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