x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bye, bye West Ham … now to take on Al Ain at home

This will be City’s second visit to the UAE, after losing 0-1 to the UAE national team at Zayed Sports City in 2009.

Man City fans celebrate during a free screening of the game against West Ham at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Man City fans celebrate during a free screening of the game against West Ham at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Abu Dhabi // Having being crowned Premier League champions for the second time in three years, Manchester City’s next challenge will be in Al Ain.

The winning side will parade their trophy around the country before facing Al Ain in a friendly at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday.

The Al Ain side will include 22-year-old midfielder Omar Abdulrahman, and some of the Arabian Gulf’s top players.

They include Yasser Al Qahtani from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal FC, former Al Ain player Boubacar Sanogo, and Emirati Ismail Matar who plays for Al Wahda.

Al Ain will take on the English champions three days before their crucial match against Al Ahli in the final of the President’s Cup at the capital’s Zayed Sports City.

City were due to travel to the UAE in January to take on the 2012-13 Arabian Gulf League champions in a friendly to mark the opening of the 25,000-seat Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

But they had to cancel after their third-round FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers led to a replay. Thousands are counting down the days until this week’s game.

Mohammed Al Shurafa, 5, a pupil at Abu Dhabi’s Manchester City Football School, is one such fan.

“I want to see my favourite players, Yaya Toure, Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero,” said Mohammed, who was wearing his sky-blue City jersey for the occasion.

This will be City’s second visit to the UAE, after losing 0-1 to the UAE national team at Zayed Sports City in 2009. On Tuesday, Al Ain face Al Jazira in the second leg of their last-16 tie in the Asian Champions League. Al Ain have a 2-1 lead.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae