x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

UAE youth team coach Misfir targets new crop of Emirati talent

Coach hopes to emulate success of 'friend and colleague' Mahdi Ali

UAE Under 19 national team coach Abdullah Misfir, right, at training on June 25, 2014. Courtesy UAE FA
UAE Under 19 national team coach Abdullah Misfir, right, at training on June 25, 2014. Courtesy UAE FA

DUBAI // Under the watchful eye of Mahdi Ali, the players of the “golden generation” of UAE football have emerged.

It has been a remarkable feat which his fellow Emirati coach Abdullah Misfir wants to reestablish in the “new generation” of players.

Misfir left his job as the coach of Arabian Gulf League club Al Dhafra to reunite with the UAE Football Association and take charge of the Under 19 national team as they prepare for the AFC U19 Championship in Myanmar from October 9 to 23.

“I want to emulate the achievements of my friend and colleague Mahdi Ali. I want to develop the players of the new generation,” he said after the U16 squad’s second day of training in Dubai on Wednesday.

Mahdi Ali had unprecedented accomplishments with the age-group team of which now almost all have moved into the senior national team and have continued to garner more success.

Misfir’s association with the FA goes back more than two decades. He has been called up several times to take care of the senior national team on the occasions when the job has fallen vacant.

“I am no stranger to the national team job and I think that’s why the FA has recruited me,” he said.

“I’ve been working for the majority of my 20 years career as a coach with the association apart from being employed by some clubs in between. My return to the national teams this time comes after a new experience with the AGL clubs.”

Misfir took Dhafra to eighth in the AGL. It was a fair position considering they finished above Al Wasl and Baniyas.

They also reached the semi-finals of the President’s Cup and the Arabian Gulf Cup, losing to Al Ahli 2-1 and to Al Jazira 6-4 in penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 deadlock.

“The decision to accept the new offer with the U19 national squad was inspired by a great desire to try something new and guide the age group team to more glory,” he said.

Misfir’s immediate task is to prepare the team for the AFC U19 Championship, which the UAE won for the first time under Mahdi Ali in 2008.

The next job is to take them ­to the 2016 Fifa U20 World Cup.

“This would be a humble effort to pay back part of the debt to my nation and people,” he said. “We will work hard to guide the players the right way and show the boys how to do it. The upcoming campaign is tough and requires more cooperation between all elements of the game to help us to win the second continental silverware.”

The UAE have been drawn in Group B of the AFC U19 Championship, pitted against Australia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.

On the team’s chances of winning the title for a second time, Misfir said they had a tough journey from the group stage and the players would need to do more.

“We need to double our efforts and work harder,” he said. “We have to select the right players and prepare a strong side, and hopefully we will succeed.”


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