x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Nationwide euphoria over football triumph

Football fans take to the streets to celebrate the UAE under-19 Asia Football Championship victory against Uzbekistan.

ABU DHABI // Football fans took to the streets on Friday night to celebrate the UAE under-19 Asia Football Championship victory against Uzbekistan. From Al Ain to Abu Dhabi and from Ras al Khaimah to Dubai, fans flew the UAE flag from their vehicles and blared their car horns. Though many were unaware that the championship had been going on, those who were out on Friday night quickly filled in other motorists on why they were celebrating.

"I saw cars on the Corniche with their horns blaring and saw people waving the Emirati flag. I even saw people wearing kanduras designed with the same colours as the flag," said Hassan Ali Khan, 17, of Abu Dhabi. "I asked my parents what was happening but they didn't know either. So I asked someone in a passing car what everyone was celebrating. That's when I was told that the UAE had won the championship."

Seif Mohammed Al Amri, 24, saw cars adorned with Emirati flags in other parts of the city after the match. "I felt a great sense of national pride. These young players who brought us victory are champions now and will be the UAE's future football champions. "This victory wasn't just a victory for Emirati nationals but a victory for all who love this country. I saw people of all nationalities celebrating."

In Al Ain, Khaled al Khumairy, 13, celebrated at home with his brothers and sisters. "I couldn't go out on the street to celebrate but heard the sound of car horns and went to my window to see what was happening. I saw people waving flags from their cars and cheering late into the night," he said. The final score in the match was 2-1, with Ahmad Khalil scoring the two goals under the guidance of the team coach Khaled bin Yehya, a Tunisian, who took charge just days before the tournament began. The final was played at Prince Mohammed bin Fahd stadium in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

By reaching the semi-finals of this competition, the UAE had already qualified for next year's Youth World Cup, which is to be held in Egypt. ealghalib@thenational.ae