x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

1989: the UAE wins its first entry to the World Cup finals

40 years of the UAE: The year 1989 is one of the most memorable in the annals of UAE sports. It was when the national football team qualified for the sporting world¿s biggest event, the World Cup.

The year 1989 is one of the most memorable in the annals of UAE sports. It was when the national football team qualified for the sporting world's biggest event, the World Cup.

Needing a draw in their final qualifying game against South Korea at Darulmakmur Stadium in the Malaysian city of Kuantan, the UAE seemed in danger of missing out after South Korea took a lead in the eighth minute.

But Adnan Al Talyani, arguably the greatest striker ever to don the national team's white jersey, equalised in the 16th minute and Mossain Mossaba, the UAE goalkeeper, then turned in a heroic performance to keep the scores level and book the UAE's ticket to Italia 90.

"When the referee blew the whistle for the game to end, it was something I will never forget, something incredible," Abdulrahman Mohammed, who would captain the team in its World Cup game against Germany, has said.

"This, for me, was the best moment in the UAE's football history."

"I can see the Roman lights," the commentator Adnan Hamad famously said at the end of the game as the UAE finished ahead of Qatar, China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea in the final round of Asian qualifying.

The success came in the UAE's second appearance in World Cup qualifiers.

They fell short in their first attempt in 1986 and have not reached the finals since.

* Ahmed Rizvi