Our columnist looks ahead to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and talks cricketing opportunities in the UAE.
It was no surprise last week when Roberto Mancini was sacked as the manager of Manchester City. Rumours were rife during Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home game in charge of Manchester United. Ironic that as one manager was telling 75,000 fans to stick by their new coach through the tough times, Mancini was sacked having won the Premier League trophy and FA Cup in three years. Not a bad record, but not good enough for the club’s Abu Dhabi owners. Maybe it has nothing to do with success on the pitch but problems behind the scenes. Talk of Mancini’s management style could have been an issue, or the lack of Champions League success. With their likely new man, Manuel Pellegrini, City should show more of a bite in Europe. Pellegrini has managed to get Malaga into the competition for the very first time – but they were unlucky not to knock now finalists, Borussia Dortmund out of the competition. There’s been a lot of change in Manchester, and the next year will go a long way in telling us who made the right decisions.
It was funny to hear President Barack Obama recently say he still has no idea what cricket is all about. Not the case here in the UAE. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the country, with Pakistan using the emirates as its home stomping ground. The team is set to play a couple of tests in the UAE later this year. Meanwhile, South Africa and Sri Lanka also look set to pay a visit. Non-professionals can also play, as the ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City has just launched its Midnight League so that amateur teams can enter for Dhs4,000: a great way to pass the summer months.
Back to football, October and November this year will see a festival of the sport hit the country as the UAE hosts the FIFA Under-17 World Cup for the first time. It’s FIFA’s third oldest tournament and one where household names first set the world alight. Cesc Fàbregas of Barcelona and Manchester United’s Anderson were two that were propelled into stardom after performances at previous Under-17 World Cup’s. The tournament kicks off on Thursday October 17 at six venues across the UAE.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
And another thing…
Well done to Asamoah Gyan. The Ghanaian Al Ain striker has broken all UAE goal-scoring records with more than 30 this season. A great effort and one player the Pro-League should aim to keep. Ajman deserve congratulations too, with their Etisalat Cup win – only the second trophy won in the team’s history.