For the last few years, humanity has had a break from any major conflict. That may end soon with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, currently working hard on destabilizing the region. What do not seem to end are the lackluster routines displayed at the domestic level of the UAE professional league. The weather was not sympathetic either. An impending sand-storm made it worse.
I was quite excited to take the trip on the metro, two stops down the green line, to the Rashid stadium to watch what fox soccer would deem as the “clash of the titans”. The top two teams of the league (well, before the game at least); Al Ain and Al Ahli, were playing against each other. Who would want to miss this?
Expensive foreigners such as Grafite, Luis Jimenez, Ricardo Quaresma, JirèsKembo Ekoko and Alex Brosque were on display along with famed local lads such as Ahmad Khalil, Ismael Al Hamadi, Majed Hassan and Omar Abdul Rahman. Unfortunately, the game was anything but entertaining.
The entirety of the game was dominated by players from both teams play acting on babyish pushovers which is when I remembered the statement of Richard Dunne referring to Al Qahtani’s try-out at Manchester City, which is when he phrased – “…..he fell to the ground like a bag of chips.” Both teams also had trouble putting a few passes together. Ricardo Quaresma, Luis Jimenez and Grafite were basically MIA. I did not even realize Khalil was playing until he lazily fouled a defender. From the opposition, each individual present in the stadium, must have eagerly been waiting for entry of Emirati wonder kid – Omar Abdul Rahman. And so did he enter, and so did he mesmerize us with a few clever touches and passes. But that was it. His underrated brother Mohamed Abdul Rahman who started, had displayed more tenacity in the middle of the pitch than his compatriots from both ends.
Then there was the annoying demonstration of horribly executed long balls, specifically from the Al Ahli back four. What made it worse was the fact that many of those, were unintentionally, sent through towards the shortest man on the field – Al Ahli’s Hamadi, not to the likes of Grafite or Ahmad Khalil.
And for the few times that Al Ain’s Democratic Republic of Congo import – Ekoko, touched the ball, few of the fans seems to enjoy racially abusing him. If it were for any other region, I assume this matter would be taken seriously.
And to cap it all off, the linesman was hit by a missile from a corner section of the stadium sending him to the ground and causing the game to be called off 5 minutes prior to the 90 minutes. Obviously, there was one fan who managed to take his frustration beyond the norms. The game ended in a lame draw. Moreover, the UAE Pro League is currently looking over the possibility of punishing Al Ahli for the incident which in no way would be ever devastating.