Our columnist looks ahead to the Asian Cup and cheers on the world’s top tennis players
The UAE’s national football team are on a roll: they won the Gulf Cup, and they’re now on the road to the Asian Cup in Australia. The tournament takes place in January 2015, and the UAE got their qualifying campaign off to a great start with a win against Vietnam. Believe it or not, the Asian Cup could soon be staged in the UAE: our nation is putting a bid together to host the 2019 tournament. After successfully hosting world-class events such as the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup and the Beach Soccer World Cup, the UAE certainly stands a chance, although it won’t be easy: rival bidders include Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand.
Yousef Al Serkal, the president of the UAE Football Association believes the UAE has all the right ingredients to succeed, noting the emirates’ hospitality as a key factor. The last time the Asian Cup was held in the UAE was in 1996, when the UAE finished runners-up.
Staying with football, we could have almost held an English Premier League fixture in Dubai last week. Five teams from the most-watched league in the world were in the UAE for training: Swansea were based at Dubai Sports City for a few days as part of their preparation for the Carling Cup Final this weekend at Wembley, while QPR, West Ham, Norwich and Sunderland were also enjoying a little sunshine.
It’s great for fans to see their heroes train, and great for Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) to offer the teams a perfect getaway. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup spoke of his happiness about being able to wear shorts, while West Ham coach Sam Allardyce said it was a great holiday, and that Dubai is perfect as it offers plenty of sunshine. And that’s certainly more than can be said of East London in February. Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
And another thing... When Roger Federer won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship last year, he said that the Dubai crowd was exceptional, spurring him on to his fifth Dubai title. With the women’s final this weekend and the men’s next week, make sure you get down to Garhoud for some world-class tennis. My grandparents are in town for it and they won’t be holding back with the cheering: they’re a passionate pair, so good luck if you’re sat next to them…