Sharjah Media Centre held its 4th Ramadan Majlis session at Sharjah Expo Centre last Monday in the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre and a group of prominent figures from the UAE football community, who discussed the UAE National Football Team’s ability to qualify for the next FIFA World Cup tournaments, affirming that a new era of football glory for the UAE is expected in the coming few years.
Moderated by Adnan Hamad, Deputy Chairman of Sharjah Consultative Council, Member of the Board of Trustees of Sharjah Sporting Family Award, the session featured HE Yousef Al Serkal, President of the UAE Football Association and Vice President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) alongside Ahmed Al Fardan, Secretary General of Sharjah Sports Council, Muhsen Musabah, former UAE national team goalkeeper and analyst for Abu Dhabi Sport Channel, and Ali Thani Jumaa, former national team and Sharjah Club player.
Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said that the selection of football as a topic for discussion in 4th session of Sharjah Ramadan Majlis being held under the slogan “In the Culture of Dialogue”, comes as part of Sharjah Media Centre’s eagerness to provide an ideal platform for discussion of important social, cultural and media issues, including football which enjoys high popularity in the UAE. The session also comes during the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, which would inspire speakers to discuss ways to qualify the UAE squad for this global event. The panel included a number of football stars who achieved great heights with the national team.
The Ramadan session was attended by HE Osama Samra, Director of Sharjah Media Centre, HE Mohammed Ali Al Noman, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, HE Dr Khalid Al Midfa, Director General of SMC, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), HE Hisham Al Madhloum, Director of Art Directorate at the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah, and HE Mohammed Khalaf, Manager of Sharjah TV & Radio as well as a group of prominent figures from cultural, intellectual, media, and sporting circles.
Adnan Hamad said that this session organised by Sharjah Media Centre is in line with the forthcoming conclusion of FIFA World Cup, which will inspire participants to discuss ways of reaching World Cup and restoring the glory of UAE football by winning major regional and international competitions.
At the start of the session, Ahmed Al Fardan recalled the memories of the fabulous 1990 when the national team was qualified for FIFA World Cup 1990 in Italy. Al Fardan was Deputy President of the UAE Football Association under the leadership of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region. Al Fardan said that that period was the best in the history of the UAE’s football, when the National Squad was able to overcome challenges and qualify for the World Cup tournament for the first time in history.
Al Fardan stressed that the current national football team has many positive signs which augur well for the future of the UAE’s football, especially following the remarkable wins in age groups and the presence of many highly enthusiastic young players in the national team, who have the passion and desire to reach major international tournaments with the team.
In his talk about the future of the UAE’s football, HE Yousef Al Serkal highlighted the key elements of success in 1990, including stability in technical teams with only two coaches at the head of the team for 9 years, in addition to the administrative stability in the UAE Football Association, which gave the necessary stability and steadiness for players, cushioning them from any negative psychological effects which may frustrate players and cause failure in qualifying for major competitions.
Al Serkal said there are many positive signs of the national team’s ability to qualify for the next two editions of the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022, due to stability under the head coach Mahdi Ali who led the team to win the Gulf Cup of Nations with five consecutive wins in 2013, and to qualify for AFC Asian Cup which will be hosted in Australia in 2015. He was, also, the same coach behind the UAE football team’s first Olympic journey to London in 2012.
Former UAE national team player Ali Thani Juma said that playing in the World Cup tournament was a dream that turned to reality, thanks to excellent preparation in camps in Spain, Qatar, and Malaysia, despite the fact that playing in the FIFA World Cup as representative of the Asian continent was so difficult at that time, when only two teams were allowed to qualify from the continent, compared to 4 or 5 nowadays, yet the national team was able to overcome challenges and reach the World Cup in Italy.
Juma said that the presence of foreign players in the UAE clubs today is behind the failure to repeat the achievement, as many national players are unable now to play and gain the necessary practice and experience. In addition, professional players are not able to commit their full time to training, and are still seeking balance between sport and work. He asked the concerned authority to take the necessary measures to force clubs to hire football players on full time basis.
Muhsen Musabah said that he does not believe that the UAE football has declined in performance in the last few years, underling that the problem is due to the retirement of a group of players at a point in time that was too early for such a generation, imbued with the talent, ambition and determination to reach and win major international competitions to leave. He added that professionalism is in need of a careful review to build on strengths and address weaknesses. He added that football must be a full time job for players to enable them to continually develop their skills and abilities.
In conclusion of the session, Musabah expressed optimism of the future of UAE’s football with the presence of young talents who have strong desire to make history, referring to the qualifying of the UAE’s national squad for the Asia Cup, leading the group with five consecutive wins, affirming that the team will perform the best in the tournament and the result will show the team’s ability to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The Sharjah Ramadan Majlis will continue with the ‘Cross Spaces Dialogue’ session, which will be held on Wednesday, July 9, and which will discuss the Clusters of Light epic, a theatrical blockbuster which marked Sharjah’s inauguration as Islamic Culture Capital 2014. Moderated by Lebanese media personality Dr Nadin Al Assaad, the session will host the stars of the epic story, including Khalid Al Sheikh, Lutfi BuShnak, Ali Al Hajjar, Hussein Al Jassmi and Mohammed Assaf.