UAE national team and Al Jazira Club goalkeeper Ali Khaseif returned home this week from the team’s silver medal exploits at the 16thAsian Games in Guangzhou, China, full of optimism for the future of football in the Emirates.
The UAE team beat South Korea with a last minute winner in the semi final of the games, to book their first ever final place against Japan. And, although the UAE eventually lost 1-0, the team’s advancement to the final stages of the competition gave team goalkeeper Khaseif grounds for optimism about the team’s future.
Wearing his silver medal, and speaking from the Al Jazira academy’s National Day celebrations today, Khaseif said: ‘I believe we have made the Emirates proud of us for what we achieved in the Asian Games this month.
‘As a team we are pleased that the hard work we’ve put in has brought us some success. In the end, we were quite disappointed with only coming away with the silver medal because we felt we’d played well enough to deserve the gold.’
With the next stop for the national team being the Asian Cup in Qatar in January and one eye on the London Olympic Games in 2012, Khaseif said the team would continue to focus on taking one game at a time, rather than getting too far ahead of itself.
‘The performance we put in here has inspired everyone involved and within the team we have a strong mix of youth and experience that should see us continue to improve. But we take one game at a time. The score starts at 0-0 every time, so we won’t look any further ahead than that.’
Khaseif and his national team colleagues will break for a few weeks, before resuming Etisalat Pro League duties mid-December, and he said that the rest along with the silver medal has made him hungry for further honours with his club Al Jazira.
‘Naturally, the silver medal will spur me on to achieve silverware with Al Jazira. I have the taste for it now. I will use the break and get myself ready for a busy rest of the season.’
Al Jazira play away to Al Shabab on the 12thDecember, and welcome Al Ain back to the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on the 19thDecember.