Tom Bushell talks sport

Our columnist looks at the UAE’s chances in the Asian Cup

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The UAE football team are well on their way to the Asian Cup in Australia in 2015. A great start to their qualifying campaign has seen them beat Vietnam and, most recently, group favorites Uzbekistan. The UAE now sit two points clear of Hong Kong and five points clear of the Uzbeks. It’s even more impressive to see the UAE team win without star player Omar Abdulrahman. There’s no denying his talent, but it’s reassuring to see the team can survive without him.

The Asian Cup will be held across the east coast of Australia in January 2015, in host cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The UAE have never won the tournament, although they reached the final in 1996 when the event was held at home, to then lose to Saudi Arabia on penalties. Yet following their Gulf Cup of Nations win earlier this year and a consistent climb up the FIFA rankings, the UAE will be hoping to continue their progress and be in with a chance of Asian Cup glory.

It’s that time of the year when it seems everybody is out on the water in Dubai, whether surfing, paddleboarding, sailing or powerboating. Indeed, it’s been a busy time for watersports in the Gulf. We’ve recently seen Sailing Arabia, the offshore sailing race around the Gulf, experience its most successful year. Nine teams took part in the 1,400km race, which took 15 days to complete. It’s great news that the race has been confirmed to take place again in 2014.

We’ve also just seen another round of the X-Cat World Series, a powerboating race that began in Dubai in the ’90s and is now a world series, heading to the likes of Africa and China. With three events still held in the UAE, it’s a superb example of the country producing some of the most competitive action seen across the world.

Also in 2014 is the Volvo Ocean Race, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing taking part in their second outing. Skipper Ian Walker, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, will once again captain the team around the world and, of course, Abu Dhabi will host a stopover once again. If you like watersports, the UAE is the place to be in 2014.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.

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