UAE’S FUTURE CHAMPIONS HEAD FOR SPAIN
Talent scouted during huge UAE football event set for Spain trip
After 1,215 matches were played and 4,701 goals were scored, the du Football Champions (duFC) UAE Schools & Streets Cups finally came to an end in March.
During that time the performance of all 7,117 players were being assessed by a number of coaches and the best players were identified.
Now the top 20 are about to embark on an epic adventure in Spain where they will train with some of La Liga’s top coaches, and play competitive games against four of Spain’s strongest academies.
The duFC elite team will be based in Marbella where they will undergo intensive training sessions before playing youth teams from Cadiz, Cordoba, Sevilla and Malaga.
It will provide a stern test for these young hopefuls as they bid to carve out a career in football. But championship director and former Real Madrid rightback Michel Salgado has high hopes for the squad after overseeing their development.
“The level of football was high and we were surprised time and again by what we saw - real raw talent right here in the UAE,” Salgado told 7DAYS.
“We spent the month of May training the selected talents with coaches from La Liga to prepare the team for their trip to Spain and we observed great improvement in their skills and stamina over the month.
“We are very proud of how far they have all come and look forward to watching them in action in Spain.”
Having caught the eye of scouts during the tournament, the members of the elite squad were pushed to their limits by coaches in May.
For winger Ahmad Salam, it was a chance to work with one of his heroes and learn more about the tactical side of the game.
“I went through the training clinic with my hero Roberto Carlos and during the training sessions in May, I learned to really understand the game strategically,” said Salam.
“I know where my teammates are at any one point and where I should be to help my teammates get the most of each play.
“I can’t wait to go to Spain now and play against the best there is and put everything I learned to the test.”
Driss Matni, who played alongside Salam in the UAE Streets Cup, also hopes the trip to Spain will allow him to move one step closer to realising his dream of signing for a professional club. “The intense training we went through helped us all really appreciate the amount of hard work that goes into playing at the top levels,” said the young striker. “That’s where we all want to be and we are now the closest we’ve ever been to making our dreams come true.”
It will certainly not be easy for the Elite squad as they will be taking on some of the strongest academies in Spain. Both Sevilla and Malaga pride themselves on developing talent.
Real Madrid superstar Sergio Ramos came through the Sevilla academy, as did Manchester City winger Jesus Navas. While Malaga’s Juanmi is considered one of the best young talents in Spanish football.
However, the UAE youngsters are excited at the prospect of playing the top Spanish academies and winger Ahmed El Yamani believes the intensive training completed in May will stand them in good stead during their European adventure.
“The training with the La Liga coaches in May was intense,” he said.
“We trained four times a week and I have learned a lot about building my stamina, skill and tactical drills to prepare for the trip.”
The 20 members of the duFC Elite Team will head to Spain later this month and when they return will be part of the du La Liga high performance centre. This will allow the players to continue their rigorous training all year round and hopefully complete their goal of earning a professional contract.
We pick out three of the players to watch from the duFC Elite Team going to Spain...
ON THE BALL: The duFC Elite Team are put through their paces during the intense training