DUBAI// With their usual squad of 18 depleted to just 10 because of injuries and scheduling, the Dubai Dingoes are taking heart from their honourable 107-78 defeat by the Bahrain Blues in the AFL Middle East League on Friday. Originally intended for December, the mid-table round- three clash was washed out and a number of Dingoes were unable to make the trip to Bahrain for the re-scheduled match.
"We had injuries to key players picked up during our match against Muscat Magpies on February 5," said their player-coach, Chris Elliott. "A couple missed out with quite serious problems like hamstring and Achilles tendon issues. "Also 50 per cent of our team is made up of Emirates staff and the reschedule meant some pilots and cabin crew couldn't make it." The AFL Middle East league adopts a nines format as opposed to a full 18-a-side game, because of the size of pitches available in the region and the limited number of people playing Australian Rules football.
A bench of an additional nine rolling substitutes is allowed, but while the Bahrain Blues fielded five on the sidelines, the Dingoes had just one. An earlier kick-off of 2pm rather than the usual 4pm also meant that the Dingoes, who had to spend more time on the field. "We were lacking in numbers, but even so it was one of the best games we have played," said Elliott. "It was fast-paced and very close at half-time and we were trailing by just four points, but in the last quarter they kicked a number of goals and we just ran out of steam."
Elliott said he was expecting fireworks from his fifth-placed team on March 5, when they take on the Dubai Dragons, who are third in the table, at The Sevens. "That should be a good game," he said. "We will take a lot of confidence into that encounter." firstname.lastname@example.org