x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE fans let their ambitions get the best of them

It was not quite the same as lifting a trophy at the Etihad, but three Manchester City players tried their best to recreate those season-ending images from Manchester in Abu Dhabi.

Manchester City players Samir Nasri, right, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic raise the Premier League trophy as UAE fans cheer them on during a stop at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi on May 13, 2014. Manchester City is in the UAE capital for a friendly against Al Ain at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain. Mona Al Mazooqi / The National
Manchester City players Samir Nasri, right, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic raise the Premier League trophy as UAE fans cheer them on during a stop at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi on May 13, 2014. Manchester City is in the UAE capital for a friendly against Al Ain at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain. Mona Al Mazooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // It was not quite the same as lifting a trophy at the Etihad, but three Manchester City players tried their best to recreate those season-ending images from Manchester in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Samir Nasri, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic made an appearance at a shoe store in Marina Mall, lifting the Premier League trophy – City’s second in three seasons – in front of their Abu Dhabi fans.

There was not quite the pitch invasion that happened at the Etihad on Sunday, when City clinched the league title, but hundreds of eager fans did mob the store in the hopes of snapping a selfie with one of the players, or at a bare minimum, an autograph.

Many of them got what they came for, though their eagerness did mean that there was a cheery chaos at the event.

“I’m really happy to have won a second title with City,” said Nasri, whose Algerian heritage as well as a key role in the triumph ensured that his appearance was the one most fans really craved.

“Every year, you expect to win trophies because of the ambition of the club and the owners, and also the quality of the players.”

Nastasic was expected to be a key figure in defence this season, but a knee injury kept him out of much of the second half, including the title run-in. He was at the ground on Sunday, however, when City beat West Ham United to secure the title. Being on the pitch as fans swarmed the field after the season’s final whistle was something he will not soon forget.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I didn’t play a lot of the second half of the season, but when the game finished and fans came on to the pitch, it was just great to be with the people at that moment.”

City arrived in the UAE a day after parading their trophies from winning the Premier title and League Cup through Manchester in an open-top bus.

The club is expected to train Wednesday at Al Jazira’s Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium in preparation for their eagerly anticipated friendly against domestic side Al Ain on Thursday night at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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