The UAE beat Iraq at the Bahrain National Stadium on Friday night to win their second Gulf Cup title in six years. The victory was sweet and historic.
What was more poignant, however, was the performance of this national side, under their inspirational coach Mahdi Ali, as a professional unit.
It is a squad that is acutely aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They play their football by adhering to those fundamentals. Coach and players have an unwavering trust in each other’s abilities. This is the essence of a winning team — the result of investing in talent and sticking patiently with a formula, and a trainer, and watching the results come forth.
This team has character. What stands out is not just their ability to fashion a victory, but their willingness to claw their way back, keeping their cool when faced with challenging situations — as was evident in the final against Iraq. This shows maturity.
The UAE Football Association has invested well. They must now ensure that “Mahdi’s boys” realise the full extent of their capabilities. There is absolutely no doubt that there will be continued success and the realisation of bigger expectations.