x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE youngsters determined to live up to expectations

As the UAE youth team prepare in Switzerland for September's Fifa Under 20 World Cup in Egypt, Hamdan al Kamali is dreaming of repeating their Asian success on the global stage.

As the UAE youth team prepare in Switzerland for September's Fifa Under 20 World Cup in Egypt, Hamdan al Kamali is dreaming of repeating their Asian success on the global stage. Al Kamali was the captain of the UAE team who stormed to a memorable triumph in the Asian Under 19 Championship in Saudi Arabia last November, winning the title without losing a game. The young "Whites", who are at a training camp in the Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana, knocked out hosts Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals to confirm their ticket to Egypt before stunning Australia 3-0 in the semis and beating 2-1 over Uzbekistan in the final.

Their Asian success has raised hopes of a strong showing in Egypt, and al Kamali is determined not to let the UAE supporters down. "We have really high ambitions for the finals in Egypt," said the Al Wahda prospect, who was one of the stars of the tournament in Saudi Arabia with his rock-solid performances in defence. "We still remember the joy that swept through the country after our success in the Asians and we hope to reproduce those scenes of celebration when we are Egypt.

"We hope we can reach the final. We are working hard for it and trying to reach the peak of our form and fitness for the tournament." The UAE have been drawn in Group F for the World Cup alongside South Africa, Honduras and Hungary. Based in Alexandria, they open their campaign on Sep 27 against South Africa, meet Honduras three days later before completing their group engagements on Oct 3 against Hungary. The team will be training in Switzerland until Aug 18 before returning home for a short training camp in the UAE.

The team will then leave for Istanbul on August 27 for their final phase of preparations and stay in the Turkish capital till Sep 23. "We know the importance of our participation in the World Cup," said Mohammed Fayez, the Al Ain left-back. "We are aware of the expectations from us and we are working hard to achieve positive results at the World Cup." arizvi@thenational.ae