Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid hails historic Al Ain victory
UAE Rulers offer congratulations as host side sets up dream final against Real Madrid after surprise Fifa Club World Cup success
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid led the celebrations after UAE home heroes Al Ain netted a place in the history books and secured a shock Fifa Club World Cup semi-final triumph.
The Arabian Gulf League champions became the first UAE side to reach the final of the showpiece global tournament thanks to a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over highly fancied River Plate, of Argentina.
The win – which came after the sides were drawn 2-2 at the end of extra time – sets up a potential dream final for the tournament hosts against defending champions Real Madrid, who face off against Kashima Antlers in the second semi-final on Wednesday.
Sheikh Mohammed, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, praised the battling Al Ain team for their heroic display.
"Al Ain has made us pleased, happy and glad by qualifying for the finals of the Club World Cup,' Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.
"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, said he was delighted that Al Ain qualified for the final.
"We hope the heroic performance of the 'ainawis' will help them realise this honourable, historic achievement with the support of the UAE fans," he said.
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, tweeted footage of the nerve-racking end to the penalty shoot-out along with a message of support.
"Congratulations UAE, congratulations Middle East, congratulation Asia," Sheikh Saif wrote.
"The finals have been reached by the champions."
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, joined in the chorus of royal congratulations for a milestone moment in UAE sport.
"Congratulations to Al Ain FC for qualifying for the final match of the Fifa Club World Cup," he tweeted.
"You proudly represent the UAE and the Arab world. We’ll be cheering for you. All the best."
Al Ain will try to make footballing history in the eagerly awaited final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
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Updated: December 19, 2018 01:54 PM