x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Players must go to Europe

Dominique Bathenay hopes the Emirates' clubs will allow their players to move overseas to improve the standard of football in the UAE.

DUBAI // Outgoing UAE coach Dominique Bathenay hopes the Emirates' clubs will allow their players to move overseas as some of the talents here "could make it big even in the best leagues around the world". Just three UAE players have played outside the country, with Ismail Matar recently turning out on loan for Qatar's Al Sadd last month. Al Wahda winger Fahad Masoud spent a year with Qatar Sport Club and Al Wasl youngster Abdullah al Kamali moved to Brazilian side Atletico Parenese in Aug 2008.

Bathenay believes Matar, who was named player of the tournament at the 2003 World Youth Cup, has enough talent to shine in Europe, saying: "He has all the attributes to become a big star. "So many agents and scouts from some of the best clubs in Europe have approached me about Matar, expressing their desire to sign him. Unfortunately, some obstacles have always prevented a move. I hope this will change in the future.

"Every player who has been named the best player at a Youth World Cup, has signed with some great club. Matar is the only exception. If he was playing abroad, it would open up the doors for the other talented young players here." Bathenay reveals he was also approached about Mohammed al Shehi, Matar's Wahda teammate. "The former France international Emmanuel Petit approached me about al Shehi and even got him a deal in Europe. Again, due to obstacles, the deal could not be completed."

Al Ahli's Ahmed Khalil, was voted Asia's best youth player last November and Bathenay said: "Our players are not any less talented than those from Iran, Japan, Australia or South Korea. But those players get the chance to go abroad and hone their skills. So we should start doing that if we want to close the gap on the leading teams in Asia." arizvi@thenational.ae