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Gulf bridged in style
January 25, 2013
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The UAE defeated former Asian champions Iraq 2-1 in extra-time to claim their second Gulf Cup title in a thrilling final in Bahrain last Friday.
Substitute Ismail Al Hammadi scored the winner in the 107th minute as thousands of UAE fans roared in celebration.  Al Hammadi, who replaced Ali Mabkhout in the 62nd minute, latched on to a pass from Amer Abdulrahman and neatly slid the ball past the right of Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri.

It was UAE’s second title in this prestigious regional championship, six years after having won it for the first time since its inception in 1970.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, while receiving the members of the victorious national team at his Al-Rawdha Palace in Al-Ain, said:

“The achievement made by the sons of the UAE at this big Gulf event swept the UAE with joy and renewed our continuous celebration of our achievements. It is an opportunity to show our solidarity and eternal love for this generous country.”

Congratulating the people of the UAE for this achievement, Sheikh Khalifa added: “Achievements cannot be made out of nothing. Rather, they are made through diligent work, patience and self-belief and, above all, through love to the country, as we all walk the same path and seek to make our state and its pride the ultimate and highest goal.”

Noting that sports have become a high priority in the UAE, he added that their development and achievements reflect growth, evolution and prosperity in all spheres.

He hailed the high morale of the national team and the efforts of the technical and management team led by coach Mahdi Ali to harness all the capabilities of the youth to claim the title.

“Championships, results and hoisting the country’s flag high is not possible without diligence, dedication, love to the country, efforts as well as the realisation of the potentials being harnessed. This was achieved last night and we want it repeated at future championships,” he said.

President Khalifa urged the champions to consider this achievement as a first step to more achievements in order to reflect the growth and development the UAE has achieved. He also urged them to set a good example for the youth with their good manners.

Sheikh Khalifa has also ordered allocation of Dhs 50 million as a grant to the members of the UAE national football team, in appreciation of their achievement.

The UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum received the members of the winning team at his Palace in Za’beel last Sunday.

Sheikh Mohammed received the Cup from the team’s captain Ismael Matar, then shook hands with members of the management and technical staff and congratulated them on the great achievement that had, he said, brought thrills and happiness to the hearts of the UAE citizens as well as the GCC people.

‘’I was following your training from the beginning as well as your matches in Gulf Cup and particularly the final match with Iraq and I was happy to see that national cohesion among you on the pitch as well as between you and our people who supported you. This embodies the spirit of national belonging for this precious country,’’ the Vice President said.

Sheikh Mohammed has also ordered the payment of Dhs50 million to the members of the team in appreciation of their achievement .

Receiving the UAE national football team, administrative and technical staff of the team at Al Badea Al A’mer Palace on Monday, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah thanked the national team for the victory. He has also urged them to work harder and sustain the same technical competency in the next competitions. He has also ordered the payment of Dhs10 million to the members of the winning team.

His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, while receiving the national team at Al Dhiyafa Palace on Monday, said the good performance of Emirati players was culminated with groundbreaking victory.  He said, “We are proud about you for winning the Khaliji 21 title.” He  has also ordered the payment of Dhs7 million to the UAE national football team in appreciation of their strong performance.

Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has awarded Dh25 million   and sons of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Saeed Dh12 million to the national team.

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