Last night I went to my first UFL game since living here. The only live football I have seen since being here was at the FIFA World Club Cup final between Barcelona and Estudiantes, so this was my first taste of UAE football.
The biggest club in Abu Dhabi, Al Jazira, have recruited a British CEO - Phil Anderton. He is keen to engage the club more fully with the local population, especially the many many thousands of expat football fans who, like me, have never been to a local football match. There has been a lot of promotion of the club in the last couple of weeks, with the club offering a free half season pass to the matches. On arrival at the first game this could be exchanged for a free full season pass. So last night, I duly went along to watch Al Jazira vs Al Nasr (Dubai) at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, which has a capacity of 45000 and was one of the FIFA venues for the Club World Cup. The club is owned by HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (who is also owner of Manchester City FC) and HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Although there was only a few thousand people in the stadium, there was a good atmosphere and everyone was enjoying themselves. The standard of football was more Beazer Homes League than Premiership, but nonetheless it was entertaining. Al Jazira won 3-0, with the last goal coming in the final few moments.
I will definitely go again, although the matches are at some odd times due to the heat. Last night the game kicked off at 10pm and their next home game kicks off at 8am on a Thursday morning - mind you, the next day Al Ain kick off at 05.35! I'd love to see them play Al Ahli, who are now managed by David O'Leary and have Fabio Cannavaro as club captain.
Below is a link to some pictures and video from last night.
|Al Jazira vs Al Nasr|