UAE mourns loss of football star Awana

UAE footballer Thiyab Awana gained fame for his back-heeled penalty goal against Lebanon. (FILE)

UAE football star Theyab Awana famed for his back-heeled penalty strike against Lebanon in July died following a fatal car accident.

The talented 21-year-old is believed to have been on his way to Abu Dhabi with his brother when he lost control of the car, according to Arabic daily 'Emarat Al Youm'. 

Meanwhile, the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) said on its official website: “Awana completed his training session with the UAE team where he was preparing for the next game with South Korea on October 11, in the third round of competition Group B qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It added that his car collided with a truck and he died on the spot."

Khalfan Al Rumaithi, president of the UAE FA, said: "Awana was very honest, keen and committed to his duties. It's a great loss for us, it is very painful news."

Zhang Jilong, acting president of the Asian Football Confederation, also paid tribute to the player.

He added: "On behalf of AFC and the Asian football family, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the UAE football community, family and friends of Awana.

"His demise at such a young age is a great loss to Asian and UAE football in particular."

"The whole team went today to the funeral, it was very sad," UAE team manager Ahmed Saeed told reporters.

"Everybody was shocked. His whole family was so proud of him. We will never forget him."

The UAE squad's training was cancelled on Monday but they will resume on Tuesday ahead of a friendly against China next week and a World Cup qualifier against South Korea on October 11.

Awana became an internet sensation for his sensational goal in the international friendly against Lebanon for which he was reprimanded by then UAE coach Srecko Katanec.

The Bani Yas winger, who also played for the UAE Olympic team, had picked up an injury during last week’s Olympic qualifier against Australia and was scheduled to travel to Germany on Monday to receive treatment, it said.

He was scheduled to catch up with the national team to prepare for the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier against Korea in Seoul on October 2011, the report added.

As part of the UAE Under-18 national team Awana won the 2008 AFC U-18 Cup in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, qualifying for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, where the team reached the last eight.

Thereafter, Awana was shortlisted for both the senior and Olympic national teams. He was also part of the team that won the silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

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