Ahead of their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign, United Arab Emirates are hoping to make a splash as they are the host for the tournament.
And coming at the heels of Al Ain making an appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup final against Real Madrid, skipper Ismail Ahmed feels that the team’s success can inspire the AFC Asian Cup hosts to do well in their respective competition.
Ismail, goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Rayan Yslam, Ahmed Barman, Mohamed Ahmad and Amer Abdulrahman all represent Al Ain and are favourites to make the final team in the regional competition.
Speaking to reporters, Ismail revealed that their experience against teams like Madrid should give them a decent gauge on how they can perform in the international competition.
He said: “We were well prepared by the coach and staff for the final. We didn’t suffer from fatigue even though we had played so many matches in short time. It was a balanced match until the second goal scored by Real (through Marcos Llorente) that gave them upper hand. We tried hard to return into the match but couldn’t. This is football. We can’t complain or have regrets about it as we gave everything on the pitch. We are all happy and proud on finishing second behind Real Madrid. I dedicate my achievement to my mother and family.”
Furthermore, Ismail believes that the form the players had in the FIFA Club World Cup should only do good for them in the AFC Asian Cup, saying: “The experience we had from this tournament will be beneficial for the national team. Our performance will motivate others in the national side to perform and compete against international sides in the Asian Cup.”