x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Please don't leave UAE home alone

UAE supporters are being urged to attend matches in person rather than watch them on television ahead of tomorow's Asian Cup clash against Malaysia.

DUBAI // UAE supporters are being urged to attend international matches rather than watch them on television to show their "passion and love for the homeland, and take pride in the national team". Rashid al Zaabi, a member of the Football Association board, has been disappointed over the past few years to see the UAE play most of their homes games in front of empty stands.

Indeed, at times - the friendly against Germany and the 2010 World Cup qualifier against South Korea - support for the visiting teams has been far greater than the home side. Al Zaabi pleaded with supporters to show their commitment by attending Wednesday's 2011 Asian Cup qualifier against Malaysia at the Al Shabab stadium in Dubai. "They have to show their passion and love for the homeland, and take pride in the national team and take on the responsibility of supporting them," said al Zaabi.

"They cannot sit at home and wait for individual invitations. They need to come out and take responsibility for the national team. "We should not have to call them. The matches are taking place in the country and we, the fans included, are the hosts. So why do they need an invitation - it is their responsibility. But they just sit at home and watch the games on television. You see other international teams, even their training sessions draw large gatherings."

Many fans have blamed their absence from games on a lack of coordination and facilities, but al Zaabi dismissed those complaints, saying the FA have always been ready to work with them and they need to "Some fans criticise the lack of coordination and facilities to attend the matches," said al Zaabi. "But the initiative should come from the fans; we are ready to listen and facilitate." Al Zaabi even offered to help supporters with transport and tickets. "We will help them with the transport, tickets and any other requirement, but they need to show a real desire," he said.

"No excuses can be made because we saw the number of fans who turned up for the Club World Cup. If we can get even a small percentage of those numbers - even just 4,000 fans - for the Malaysia game, the team would be delighted. "We know there are lots of fans who love their football, but they need to get out of their homes and get involved. We need them as we enter a new phase of cooperation for the success of UAE football." @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae