Manchester City's young fans’ excitement for Champions League final reaches fever pitch

More than 1,000 boys and girls in the UAE take part in the Manchester City Football Schools programme in the UAE

Excitement about Manchester City’s upcoming Champions League final is reaching fever pitch among young fans in the UAE.

Manchester City, owned by Sheikh Mansour, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, were presented with the Premier League trophy on Sunday, capping a spectacular run of success over the past 12 years.

Under Sheikh Mansour’s ownership, the team have now won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and six League Cups.

But the coveted Champions League title continues to elude them.

I’m so confident we are going to win. Guardiola has never lost a Champions League final

Omar Awad, Manchester City fan

City hope to change that when they play in their first Champions League final this Saturday against Chelsea in Porto.

“It’s been a great few years, with lots of success on the pitch with lots of different trophies,” said Kristian Mahon, a Mancunian who is head coach for Manchester City Schools' Abu Dhabi programme.

“But this is the one trophy so far the club hasn’t won. So it would be lovely to win it,” he told The National at one of the programme’s training sessions.

Young player Hamad Al Neyadi, 15, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, has been a supporter of the club since he was small.

“Everyone is playing good and the coaches are training them hard. They are focusing on winning the Champions League. They have never won it before, so I am excited for them,” he said.

Fellow Emirati, Humaid Al Ameri, 17, said the team’s success will depend on who plays on the night. But he is confident the team can win.

“If we have a bad line-up we will lose,” he said. “I don’t want to see [Raheem] Sterling and [Gabriel] Jesus. Sterling has not scored easily. I want to see [Phil] Foden playing.”

Manchester City Football-AD Manchester City Football club practices for the Champions League next weekend at the OfficerÕs Club Indoor Club on May 23, 2021. Khushnum Bhandari / The National Reporter: Gillian Duncan News
Manchester City Football-AD Manchester City Football club practices for the Champions League next weekend at the OfficerÕs Club Indoor Club on May 23, 2021. Khushnum Bhandari / The National Reporter: Gillian Duncan News

Qaiss Awad, 18, who has been part of the Manchester City Schools programme for nine years, thinks they will win.

“If we have the passion and put in the hard work they can definitely make it. Man City will become one of the best teams in the world, even more so than now,” the Palestinian said.

His father, Omar Awad, who is another huge Manchester City fan, agreed and said the team’s achievements were all the more impressive because they have not relied on one or two star players.

“We have not been like Madrid, Barcelona and some of the other teams, where they get big names to reach their goal. We have got the quality players instead of the big stars,” he said.

“I’m so confident we are going to win. [Pep] Guardiola has never lost a Champions League final.”

City Football Schools operate seven venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
City Football Schools operate seven venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Mr Mahon said he and most of the other coaches involved in the programme have been involved with the club for a long time and have seen it grow.

“You have always seen the good people behind the club, and with that the sky is the limit in terms of where it could go because of the decisions they are making,” Mr Mahon said.

“It’s great to see and it’s not only here, but in other areas and parts of the world where we are seeing a Manchester City affinity growing, all the time.”

More than 1,000 boys and girls in the UAE take part in the Manchester City Football Schools programme, which has been running for 10 years across the UAE.

City Football Schools operate seven venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Players aged 3 to 16 can play at Zayed Sports City, Emirates Palace and Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, the venues are Brighton College, Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, Koora Dome and Uptown School in Mirdif.

Updated: May 27, 2021 09:43 PM

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