Thursday cover: UAE embark on Gulf Cup title defence

The National’s Sport cover for the Thursday, November 13 issue, featuring the UAE national football team out to defend their Gulf Cup of Nations title as the tournament begins on Thursday night.

Ali Khaled highlights the UAE's continuity, manager Mahdi Ahli's tactical acumen and a winning culture surrounding the team as reasons the Emiratis can lift the trophy again.

“Since the 2013 Gulf Cup, the UAE’s run of results has been remarkable. An unbeaten 2013, comfortable qualification to the 2015 Asian Cup and several notable friendly victories. This is a team instilled with the winning habit.

“A loss of form this year raised concerns that the side peaked too early. Mahdi Ali has dismissed that notion, never taking his eye off the prizes – this Gulf Cup and the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia next January.

“He knows that this team get results when it matters and that his players know they are the team to beat in Riyadh.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed Rizvi offers a complete guide to the tournament at large, including team-by-team breakdowns, players to watch and numbers to know.

The UAE begin their run in Riyadh on Friday, first playing Oman.

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The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work


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Neymar (69'), Firmino (90'+3)    

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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

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