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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 January 2019

'It was like my wedding day': Al Ain fans jubilant after Club World Cup win over River Plate

Fans from across the Arab world took to social media to celebrate the surprise victory

Fans cheer before the game between River Plate and Al Ain in the Fifa Club World Cup. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Fans cheer before the game between River Plate and Al Ain in the Fifa Club World Cup. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“Honestly, I never expected them to win," said Egyptian Ahmed Ragab.

But win is exactly what Al Ain FC did on Tuesday evening on a dramatic night at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to book their place in the Fifa Club World Cup final.

And fans of the UAE football club took to social media after the game to express their pleasure after the shock result, which could line them up for a meeting with Real Madrid in the final.

After a gruelling 2-2 draw and a dry two halves of extra-time, the match went to penalties with Al Ain keeper Khalid Eissa the hero when he denied Enzo Perez.

Mr Ragab was filmed by his friend in Egypt, and the clip was shared by other fans in the aftermath on Twitter.

“I have been a fan since 2002, and witnessed many of the best squad in the club’s history. I’ll never forget the 2003 squad, he told The National.

"My happiness yesterday was immeasurable. It was like my wedding day.”

“My predictions for the final: either we do well or we don’t, I am very happy with my team. We made it to the top of the footballing world, and are playing in an international club competition, and that’s immense. I hope we do well. But even if we don’t, I am very grateful for all the players and the management.”

Meanwhile, fans in the UAE celebrated on the streets. Theyab Al Bulooshi said: “Before the game with Esperance we expected to lose, but after they played so well and beat them, we felt we could beat anyone.”

“The final is hard to predict. If we don’t win, we have to play well at least. If we lose, having reached the final is a great achievement.”

The UAE's leaders also praised the team on social media. Sheikh Mohammed, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said: "It was a strong and heroic performance from a team that adores championships. Congratulations and we hope you lift the cup."

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, added: "We hope the heroic performance of the 'ainawis' will help them realise this honourable, historic achievement with the support of the UAE fans."

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Read more:

Al Ain 'are going to fight to win' Club World Cup after reaching final, says Khalid Essa

Fifa Club World Cup: Al Ain beat River Plate on penalties to reach historic final

Real Madrid strike a pose ahead of Fifa Club World Cup semi-final in Abu Dhabi

Updated: December 19, 2018 05:44 PM

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