UAE Football Team Al Fujairah Aims for League Promotion
This season, UAE First Division football is nothing short of amazing for the football fans in the Middle East. Regardless which Emirate you are from, the excitement of battling for the second, also the last
This season, UAE First Division football is nothing short of amazing for the football fans in the Middle East. Regardless which Emirate you are from, the excitement of battling for the second, also the last spot to be promoted to the top Arabian Gulf League has garnered all attentions in the country. And Al Fujairah FC is one of the two clubs that is just one match away from that goal.
Fujairah, located in the most eastern side of UAE, is one of the seven emirates that make up United Arab Emirates. So once we have arrived in Dubai via the comfortable Emirates Airbus A380, we set off on a near 2 hours car ride journey. During that journey, we had to cut through the mountainous terrain and battled through a mild sandstorm before we arrived in the city. Indeed, beside the football stadium, Fujairah Fort and some beaches, the east coast was not exactly a very touristy venue to be in.
So what put that football club under world football’s radar?
Undoubtedly, the main reason that attracted the world’s attention on this relatively little known club in UAE is their appointment of famous Argentine legend Diego Maradona as their head coach. While it is fair to say that it is the work of the infamous Hand of God’s which put the club on the world map, the players and the Sheikh of the Emirates’ also put in tremendous, or if not equal effort to match up with coach Diego’s reputation. At the moment, the club remains the only team that stays undefeated this season thus far.
The moment we made our way into Fujairah Club Stadium’s compound, the majestic red and white main building with the capacity of near 10,700 seating welcomed us. The Stadium has a huge dry fountain built up right in front of it and that structure cuts off the usual Stadium’s entrance look. We had the feeling of arriving at the garden of a huge mansion that we were about to make our way in.
Prior to the UAE First Division match between Al Fujairah & Masfout which we were supposed to cover, we were brought on an exclusive stadium tour by the club’s official. For the next 45 minutes, we were indulging ourselves in the admiration of the Stadium’s luxury antonvich interior design! It was truly a walk of a lifetime for us where we felt that it was all meant for the Royal family.
The next moment, we were ushered into the office for a chat. And that was when our admiration and respect for the club and its team grew uncontrollably several notches up. Right in front of our eyes, apart from the desktop computer screen, all the stationary that the officials were using were all customized with club’s logo! It was amazingly impressive that you would see the club’s color and logo on almost every stationary on the working desk. The office that the team was working in daily was not huge but it was filled with passion and pride. Particularly, we were impressed to see the wallpaper behind the office – picture of the Sheikh leading the rest of the team. Coach Diego was the right hand man beside the Sheikh!
Next, the clock struck 6pm local time (10pm Singapore time), the match between Al Fujairah and Masfout kicked off in front of approximately 1,200 supporters. Not a bad attendance for a First Division football though.
Al Fujairah had not lost a game this season and the thought of losing to Masfout was definitely not going to be on Fujairah players’ minds. In fact, that was a game that the team had to win to keep their hope of promotion alive. Having said that, it was not exactly a game that coach Diego would be proud of with all great respect.
The home team took the game to the visitor as soon as the kick off whistle was blown and nearly rewarded themselves with an early lead. However, the team squandered a spot kick after an Al Fujairah’s player was brought down in the penalty box. The home team went into the half time break trailing with a goal.
Second half was a better performance put up by Al Fujairah as they fought back to the game to lead 2-1. However, Masfout was destined to spoil the fun at Fujairah. Masfout equalized late in the game through a free kick just right outside the penalty box and held that 2-2 score line all the way till the final whistle blow. Despite maintaining perfect record for not losing any game in the league, that result was a cruel draw and put Al Fujairah in a challenging spot within the league table.
Once again, we are extremely impressed with the standard of play even at this level. Although Al Fujairah does not have any National Team player in their team, the team is playing a very competitive, intensive and disciplined football. As compared to our last experience at Al Ain FC last February, the only difference is the size of their Stadiums! The excitement and competitiveness of the match really set our adrenaline pumping hard by the pitch side. And for that, I guess it has to be the pride of gulf football that many could have missed out. And an evening for us to enjoy such a beautiful football at Fujairah, together with the presence of a great Argentine football legend, it is all worth the effort.
Regardless the competitior’s result, we wish Al Fujairah all the best in their last game. One more game…..