As Manchester City take on the UAE national team at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, shorn of some of their stars, we look at the players set to have you on your feet
Benjamin Mwaruwari Age: 31 (Zimbabwe) Position: Striker Bought from Portsmouth in 2008 for a reported fee of £7.6million, the man known as Benjani is a beefy striker in the Didier Drogba mould. Power to spare and pace to burn, only a lack of finishing prowess has hindered his career. But even with Robinho in the team last year, he still made a large number of appearances and bagged a total of nine goals.
Who’s he got to beat? Majed Nasser (Al Wasl): A capable keeper with mid-table strollers Al Wasl.
Stephen Ireland Age: 23 (Ireland) Position: Attacking midfielder A graduate of the Man City youth team, Ireland was the success story of last year. A busy attacking midfielder, who chipped in with only one less goal than Robinho last season, he is a devilish finisher and was named Man City senior player of the year for 2008/09. This season has seen his opportunities limited, but he still scored the opening goal of Man City’s season away at Blackburn.
Who’s gonna stop him? Hilal Saeed (Al Ain): Impressive, quick centreback with a knack for scoring the odd goal.
Michael Johnson Age: 21 (England) Position: Midfielder Another one from the Man City schoolboy academy, prior to the Abu Dhabi revolution, Johnson was considered England’s most promising youth player. A box to box midfielder, a la Steven Gerrard, he has two caps for England under 21s, but successive injuries have wrecked the past few years and an abdominal injury ruled him out for a year in September 2008. When fit, he is both a goal threat and a dynamic playmaker. Who’s he up against? Mahmoud Khamis (Al Wadha): A well-rounded attacker with an eye for goal.
Some of the lesser known youngsters you’re likely to see next month include...
Vladimir Weiss Age: 19 (Czech) Position: Winger An old-fashioned winger. The kind of player they used to have in the ’50s; he likes to kick the ball and run fast. He has a few tricks about him, too, but has yet to truly break into the first team having only made one appearance since his move to the City of Manchester Stadium last year. Still only 19, he has already played five times for the Slovakia national team. A genuine star for the future.
Nedum Onohua Age: 22 (England) Position: Defender (centre, left, right back) Seemingly around forever, Onohua was once one of England’s most promising young defenders, and to some extent still is, although he has struggled to hold down a regular starting place in recent years, largely due to injury. His pace is scary – only natural given that both his parents were sprinters – and an ability to play across the back makes him a real asset.
Man City vs UAE, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, November 12. Tickets are priced at Dhs25 for general admission and Dhs125 for VIP seating. Available from Etihad, Virgin Mega Stores and both Marina and Al Wadha Malls.