Fabio Cannavaro to make his home debut

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If you are stuck for something to do in Dubai this evening, Fabio Cannavaro is making his home debut for Al Ahli, at the Rashid Stadium, which is next to Al Mulla Plaza in Qasais.

The 10pm kick-off time is a bit moody if you have to be in work early tomorrow, but the entry fee is attractive: Ahli's first five (at least, I'd say) home games this season are free.

Cannavaro is obviously the main attraction, but this fixture is always a goody anyway. It is a Dubai derby against Al Wasl, a side who played the champions, Al Wahda, off the park in their opening game last week.

They have also got their own European import, a midfielder from Bilbao called Francisco Yeste who scored on his Pro League debut last week. He's a bit of a hothead by all accounts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Yeste

Having said that, most people would have hot heads if they had to play in this weather. The Emirati players are also fasting all day - it is a medical wonder they can get through 90 minutes of football at the end of it.

There's been plenty of debate about the merits of starting the season at this time of year, explored in Ahmed Rizvi's piece in today's edition of The National.


David O'Leary, Ahli's manager, also had his say on the matter last night. He had his first experience of the stifling conditions last Thursday, when his new team lost 2-0 away at Al Dhafra, which is near the Saudi border.

"They were drained in the the dressing room," he said. "I thought a couple of them were on the edge of passing out.

"It must be hard for all the teams, not just Al Ahli. I can't wait to get out of it and get back to more normal ways.

"I was brought up at Arsenal and it was always very important how you load up, how you eat. It must be very hard."

They don't play matches in these conditions in deepest Leeds or Birmingham.