Ahmed Khalil and Hamdan al Kamali hope to impress potential suitors by playing against some of the world's biggest names later this year.
UAE's request to top nations
DUBAI // Ahmed Khalil and Hamdan al Kamali are hoping to be given the chance to impress potential suitors by playing against some of the world's biggest names later this year. The two young Emiratis were yesterday linked with a move to the English Premier League when Sulaiman al Fahim said he would try to sign them for Portsmouth should he complete his proposed takeover of the club.
And, if plans from the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) come to fruition, then the nation's two most promising young players will be able to show off their talents against either Argentina, Uruguay, France, Italy or Holland. Al Wahda, who al Kamali plays for, and Al Ahli, Khalil's club, both said yesterday that they had not received any offers, while a spokesman for al Fahim said it was "completely inappropriate to talk about hiring players" before the takeover had been completed.
If the pair do not move to the English top flight this summer, they will be able to show Portsmouth fans what their club will be missing when they line up for the national team against world- class players. The UAE FA are trying to arrange home games against one or more of three former world champion teams or the former European champions Holland before the two young players line up against Malaysia in a home 2011 Asian Cup qualifier on Jan 6.
The FA want to play six friendlies in the period leading up to the visit of Malaysia and are very keen to attract the world's leading nations. "We would like to see Argentina, Uruguay, France, Italy or Holland playing here against our national team," said Abdullah Yousuf, the general secretary of the UAE FA. "This is our plan and we hope to be successful in bringing some of the big teams to play here.
"We have still not confirmed any official games, but this is the plan. We have spoken to the new coach and he has agreed to play against these top-quality sides." The UAE were beaten 7-2 by another World Cup winning team, Germany, in Dubai earlier this month, but results such as that do not deter Yousuf. "We plan to play as many games as possible. We will be using all Fifa days and free days," he said.
"We need to find a good understanding with the Pro League to fix our programme. We have enough time before the Malaysia game. We are lucky that we have 10 months without any official competition." With Abu Dhabi due to host the Club World Cup in December, Yousuf said bringing a top team to the UAE would be the perfect dress rehearsal. "We have a lot of plans for the future, he said. "We have the Beach Soccer World Cup and then the Club World Cup. Hopefully, we will also see some high standard teams playing as well. "We have closed the page on our past after the game in Iran and now we are looking to the future. Hopefully, we can learn from the negatives and positives from the past, study them and turn them into positives for the future." After ending their final round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with a solitary point, the UAE are desperate for a turnaround and have brought in Slovenian Srecko Katanec as coach to succeed Dominique Bathenay. Yousuf is confident Katanec, criticised in some quarters of the Arabic press for his lack of experience, is the right man to lead the next generation of Emirati footballers. "Katanec has good experience with modest teams and he achieved success with them too, I hope he can repeat that here," he said. "Slovenia are a small nation and he succeeded in taking them to the 2000 European Championship, where the team did very well. He also helped the team qualify for the 2002 World Cup. "If he can do the same for UAE, a small country in Asia, help them play well in the Asian Cup and qualify for the 2014 World Cup, it will be great and enough for us. "He is one of the younger generation of coaches. We were looking for young blood with a modern football outlook, patient and aggressive. I think you can find all these qualities in Srecko. "I hope the administration, players and coach work as a group and work together to reach our targets. "We have a new generation of players coming through from the youth side and there will be some changes. If we can use all these points in the right way, I am sure we can find solutions to our problems."