Dubai: The pinnacle of all of UAE’s footballing successes, despite their two Gulf Cup triumphs, is still their qualification for the Fifa World Cup in 1990. Muhsin Musabah, goalkeeper of that ‘Class of 1990’, discussed his country’s hosting of this year’s Fifa U-17 World Cup and offered some advice to UAE’s young players in an interview with Fifa.com.
How do you feel about UAE hosting the Fifa U-17 World Cup 2013?
Hosting the U-17 World Cup is a follow-up to UAE’s hosting of the U-20 World Cup back in 2003. I believe that tournament played a big role in deciding how Fifa looked at UAE. They could see that our facilities and skills had really [improved], whether it was our volunteering system or the infrastructure of our stadiums. I think that all the teams are fairly equal this time around, and so I expect to see a lot of excellent footballing performances at UAE 2013.
This will be the fifth international tournament hosted by UAE, following the U-20 World Cup, the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup and two editions of the Fifa Club World Cup. What does UAE offer to the fans who come for the tournament?
We invite the fans to come here for the tournament. They will find many luxurious services, from transport and accommodation through to volunteer guides and tourist information, and they will derive great benefits from this tournament, socially and otherwise. I believe that UAE’s record shows we have what it takes to organise a successful tournament.
You played at Italy 1990. What advice would you give to the players who are taking part in this tournament at such a young age?
My advice would be for them to go out and enjoy it! They mustn’t get obsessed about the results, about winning and losing. They have to enjoy the games and use all their skill and technique. Then they will certainly feel the benefit in the future and the tournament will give them a huge morale boost. That’s why it’s so important to enjoy yourself.
What are your memories of Italia ‘90?
Every step of the way was wonderful. Playing in a sporting contest like that means so much, because you get appreciation from the public even when you’re walking in the street. The World Cup is a massive tournament and for me, as a player, it was a chance to gain a lot of experience and pass it on to the younger generations in order to spread the game as far as it could go.
What match do you still remember from Italy?
The game against Germany, because we were up against a number of footballing superstars like Rudi Voeller, Lothar Matthaus and Jurgen Klinsmann. They were huge names and we took them on with great spirit, so much so that they even clapped me when I made saves. I still remember them going ahead after 35 minutes and that we got a lot of praise from them because we ended the first-half only two goals behind and got a goal back at the start of the second. They’re unforgettable memories.
How do you see UAE football at the present time and going forward?
I can say that UAE football is on the right track. I reckon we have what it takes to reach the AFC Asian Cup and qualify for the Fifa World Cup Russia 2018, given the ability of our young players.