Al Nasr celebrate after winning the President's Cup quarter-final match against Al Ain on May 23, 2015. Francois Nel / Getty
Al Nasr celebrate after winning the President's Cup quarter-final match against Al Ain on May 23, 2015. Francois Nel / Getty

Al Nasr, moulding into the UAE’s knockout specialists, in the spotlight at President’s Cup



It should have been cause for great celebration for the UAE’s oldest football club.

On January 30, Al Nasr won the Arabian Gulf Cup, their first domestic trophy in 25 years, after beating Sharjah 4-1 at Rashid Stadium in Dubai. Yet the eyes of the rest of the country were firmly elsewhere.

On the same night that Al Nasr’s Australian captain Brett Holman lifted the cup, the UAE national team were defeating Iraq 3-2 in Australia to claim third place at the 2015 Asian Cup. It had been a tournament in which coach Mahdi Ali, Omar Abdulrahman, Ali Mabkhout and the rest of what is being called a golden generation were busy winning hearts and football matches in Australia.

Now Al Nasr have another shot at cup glory, and this time with the spotlight firmly on them.

Last week’s away victory over Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ain, thanks to a last-minute Ibrahima Toure winner, was unexpected. Saturday night’s home semi-final clash with Al Shabab seems a less-difficult assignment, and Nasr fans will expect coach Ivan Jovanovic’s men to advance to another cup final.

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Nasr were fifth in the league, 21 points behind Al Ain, but the Dubai club may be moulding themselves as cup specialists.

Last May, Nasr defeated Saham of Oman to clinch the GCC Clubs Cup, and their grip on that trophy was broken only when Al Shabab knocked them out 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-final two weeks ago. A victory on Saturday, followed by a victory in the President’s Cup final on Wednesday, would erase their GCC Clubs Cup disappointment.

It is a welcome return to prominence for the country’s oldest club (established 1945), which in recent years had dropped out of the country’s elite. For years, they had lurched from one crisis to another and from one manager to the next, few lasting more than one year in the job.

Jovanovic, however, is completing his second season in Dubai and seems likely to be back for a third. With the attacking trio of Toure, Holman and Pablo Hernandez, he has delivered silverware, and a first President’s Cup triumph for Nasr since 1989 would be a great achievement.

Should Nasr make it to Wednesday’s final, one of Al Ahli or Al Dhafra will stand between them and glory. In different ways, they will be equally difficult.

Ahli seem to be rounding into the sort of form, finally, expected of them throughout the domestic season, while Dhafra have shown a tenacity that makes them much more than Makhete Diop and 10 friends.

First, they must overcome Shabab. Then thoughts can turn to adding the country’s most important cup to a growing list of trophies. For this one, Nasr would be the centre of attention.

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UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

57 Seconds

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann, Lovie Simone
Rating: 2/5

THREE POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS

Khalfan Mubarak
The Al Jazira playmaker has for some time been tipped for stardom within UAE football, with Quique Sanchez Flores, his former manager at Al Ahli, once labelling him a “genius”. He was only 17. Now 23, Mubarak has developed into a crafty supplier of chances, evidenced by his seven assists in six league matches this season. Still to display his class at international level, though.

Rayan Yaslam
The Al Ain attacking midfielder has become a regular starter for his club in the past 15 months. Yaslam, 23, is a tidy and intelligent player, technically proficient with an eye for opening up defences. Developed while alongside Abdulrahman in the Al Ain first-team and has progressed well since manager Zoran Mamic’s arrival. However, made his UAE debut only last December.

Ismail Matar
The Al Wahda forward is revered by teammates and a key contributor to the squad. At 35, his best days are behind him, but Matar is incredibly experienced and an example to his colleagues. His ability to cope with tournament football is a concern, though, despite Matar beginning the season well. Not a like-for-like replacement, although the system could be adjusted to suit.

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Investors: Family offices

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Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk

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Tottenham 4 (Alli 51', Kane 50', 77'. Aurier 73')

Olympiakos 2 (El-Arabi 06', Semedo')

Company profile

Company name: amana
Started: 2010
Founders: Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb
Based: UAE
Regulator: DFSA
Sector: Financial services
Current number of staff: 85
Investment stage: Self-funded

If you go

The Flights

Emirates and Etihad fly direct to Johannesburg from Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. Economy return tickets cost from Dh2,650, including taxes.

The trip

Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays (worldwidemotorhomingholidays.co.uk) operates fly-drive motorhome holidays in eight destinations, including South Africa. Its 14-day Kruger and the Battlefields itinerary starts from Dh17,500, including campgrounds, excursions, unit hire and flights. Bobo Campers has a range of RVs for hire, including the 4-berth Discoverer 4 from Dh600 per day.

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Results

5.30pm Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m

Winner Spirit Of Light, Clement Lecoeuvre (jockey), Erwan Charpy (trainer)

6.05pm Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,900m

Winner Bright Start, Pat Cosgrave, Saeed bin Suroor

6.40pm Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 2,000m

Winner Twelfthofneverland, Nathan Crosse, Satish Seemar

7.15pm Handicap (TB) Dh85,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Imperial Empire, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

7.50pm Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 2,000m

Winner Record Man, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

8.25pm Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,600m

Winner Celtic Prince, Fabrice Veron, Rashed Bouresly

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

MATCH INFO

Day 1 at Mount Maunganui

England 241-4

Denly 74, Stokes 67 not out, De Grandhomme 2-28

New Zealand 

Yet to bat

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Patrick Chamoiseau

Translated from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale

MATCH INFO

Real Madrid 2 (Benzema 13', Kroos 28')
Barcelona 1 (Mingueza 60')

Red card: Casemiro (Real Madrid)

Teams

Punjabi Legends Owners: Inzamam-ul-Haq and Intizar-ul-Haq; Key player: Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakhtoons Owners: Habib Khan and Tajuddin Khan; Key player: Shahid Afridi

Maratha Arabians Owners: Sohail Khan, Ali Tumbi, Parvez Khan; Key player: Virender Sehwag

Bangla Tigers Owners: Shirajuddin Alam, Yasin Choudhary, Neelesh Bhatnager, Anis and Rizwan Sajan; Key player: TBC

Colombo Lions Owners: Sri Lanka Cricket; Key player: TBC

Kerala Kings Owners: Hussain Adam Ali and Shafi Ul Mulk; Key player: Eoin Morgan

Venue Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Format 10 overs per side, matches last for 90 minutes

Timeline October 25: Around 120 players to be entered into a draft, to be held in Dubai; December 21: Matches start; December 24: Finals

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

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Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

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Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
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