'Whites' coach Mahdi Ali backs UAE juniors to do well at Fifa U-17 World Cup

Local UAE stars have been getting behind the nation’s U-17 team ahead of the largest football event ever to hit the UAE shores – the Fifa U-17 World Cup.

Popular Emirati singer, Aryam and UAE Senior Team Coach, Mahdi Ali, have both expressed their support for Al Abyad (The Whites) and are looking forward to the UAE’s opening match against Honduras on October 17 in Abu Dhabi.

Coach Mahdi Ali said: “The beauty about the Fifa U-17 World Cup is that teams learn and grow. I am aware that winning is most commonly the objective for qualifying teams here but this tournament is also focused on giving these teams an unforgettable learning experience that could transform them to tomorrow’s football stars. I would like the UAE U-17 players to take home valuable lessons every time they play a Fifa U-17 World Cup game.
I have been watching the UAE U-17 team train and I am confident that they will definitely be ones to watch this autumn.”

The UAE is a country well known for its great passion for football and the sport has been a huge part of the UAE culture for many years.

The Whites have hired coaches such as Henri Michel, Roy Hodgson and Dick Advocaat, while they won the Gulf Cup of Nations for the first time in 2007 and repeated the feat this year.

Al Ain became the first Emirati team to win the AFC Champions League in 2003 and reached the final again two years later; the Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City FC financing them to the English title and the UAE Pro League has attracted onto its fields and into its dugouts the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Asamoah Gyan, Diego Maradona and David Trezeguet.

Furthermore, the Emirates has revelled in hosting four global tournaments: the Fifa U-20 World Cup in 2003, when Ismail Matar outshone the likes of Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano to seize the adidas Golden Ball and helped UAE exceed all expectations and reach the quarter-finals; the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup six years later; the Fifa Club World Cups of 2009 and ’10, which showcased, among others, Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Leandro Damiao, Lionel Messi, Juan Sebastian Veron and Xavi.

The final 24 qualified nations will begin the tournament in six groups of four, with the top two teams in each group automatically qualifying for the round of 16. The four best third-placed teams from the group stages will also progress to the knock-out stages.      

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