Al Ain midfielder Hussein El Shahat is hoping a strong performance at this year’s Fifa Club World Cup will help secure a regular spot with the Egypt national team.
The winger, a revelation last season after joining the Garden City club in January, played an integral role in helping Al Ain to the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) and President’s Cup double. He promises to once more be one of his team’s most influential players when the Club World Cup kicks off in a little more than three months’ time.
Al Ain qualified for the December 12-22 event by virtue of winning the UAE championship, with El Shahat scoring seven goals and registering nine assists in 11 top-flight matches. He was later voted the league’s fans’ player of the year.
Signed initially on loan from Egypt’s Misr El Makkasa, El Shahat made permanent his transfer in March, just days before his debut for Egypt in a friendly against Greece. He missed out on a place in this summer’s World Cup, but last week was named in new Egypt manager Javier Aguirre's squad for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger.
With much to play for at Al Ain this season – the AGL kicks off on Thursday - El Shahat knows a good display on the global stage could cement his place with his national team.
“I’m very excited about playing in the Fifa Club World Cup in December,” he said. “Anyone who plays in this tournament will remember it for ever, so I am very eager to compete and hopefully progress to the latter stages.
“A solid run in the competition will put us in the spotlight and can only help my ambitions to become a regular member of the Egyptian national team.
“It will be great playing in front of our home fans in Al Ain. They support us home and away, and it makes a huge difference to the players knowing we have this unwavering support. I’m also hopeful that I may yet come up against some of my countrymen who may qualify for the tournament through the [African] Champions League.”
Al Ain will be joined at the tournament, taking place in the Emirates for the second successive year, by defending champions Real Madrid, Mexico's Guadalajara and Team Wellington of New Zealand. The remaining three entrants - the winner of South America's Libertadores Cup, the Asian Champions League and the African Champions League - will not be decided until November. Egypt's Al Ahly are one of eight African clubs who could still book their place in the UAE.