This week our columnist looks back on highlights from the Pro-League, and catches up with Michael Owen
As the UAE football season comes to a close, Al Ain have once again expressed their dominance, winning the league with more games to spare than most European champions. Their form is very much down to Asamoah Gyan, whose 30 domestic goals this season is a new Pro-League record. Al Ahli secured second in the table while Al Jazira failed to pick up a single trophy. At one stage they were leading the Eitsalat Cup final, but two goals from a superb Ajman side enabled the Orange Brigade to pick up their second trophy in the club’s history, leaving Al Jazira with nothing. Perhaps the greatest success of the Pro-League this season is keeping Omar Abdulrahman in the league.
Even though he has two more years to go on his Al Ain contract, it’s no secret he is beginning to get itchy feet and will be looking at any offers from European clubs with great interest. Hopefully this won’t thwart the Pro-League’s plans to attract bigger audiences next year.
I had a good chat with Michael Owen in Dubai recently. Speaking at the Arabian Business Brit List Awards, he talked of his retirement and what kept him at the top – self belief. Owen pointed to Alan Shearer as a huge inspiration: not everything went well for him, but he managed to stay at the top. The former England man told me he intends to spend more time in Dubai now he’s not committed to playing every week.
Elsewhere in football, Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City will be disappointed with their season. No trophies is not what was on the menu, but America is. Abu Dhabi are determined to make their new Major League Soccer (MLS) venture a success. The club has been opening up soccer schools across the US in the past three years and will have an MLS franchise kicking off in 2016.
The new stadium will be built next door to the existing USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows in New York, and with hundreds of thousands of football-mad Spaniards and Mexicans in that area it certainly looks set to capture the population’s imagination.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
One more thing...
Yas Marina is set to add yet more experiences to its portfolio. Not happy with F1, cycling, running and numerous driving experiences, you can now take advantage of a load of Mercedes AMG specialised drives. They’ll be added to the venue’s roster of driving experiences, which include Yas Drift School, Yas Drag Racing Academy and the Formula Yas 3000, letting visitors get behind the wheel for an F1-style racing experience.