Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday received at Zaabeel Palace members of the UAE football team, fresh from their victory in the 21st Gulf Cup Championship.
Shaikh Mohammad praised the role played by Mahdi Ali in managing and directing the team through the various challenges they faced against other Gulf nations, especially Iraq.
“Your performance and cohesiveness reflected the loyalty and dedication you have for this country and its leadership,” he said.
Shaikh Mohammad urged the team to maintain this positive energy and develop it in carrying out their national duty through which they represent the nation and its people in regional and international competitions so that the UAE will remain the best team.
“I have seen on your faces your optimism and determination to attain victory,” he said. “You have proven that you are worthy of winning the championship. However, there many difficult challenges that you will face in the next Asian championship. You have to remain diligent and continue your training in order to maintain your fitness and mental capacity to face these challenges with confidence and determination.”
Shaikh Mohammad told the team that they have to keep believing themselves and their abilities until they achieve their target and goals. “I used to play football, and I once played for the Irish team against England in a friendly game. I am an athlete and therefore I can relate to your joy in winning an important regional or international championship.”
Shaikh Mohammad emphasised that the UAE and all its various segments will always support the national team. He urged the players to continue to achieve and win, and to refrain from becoming overconfident so as not to lose their focus.
“I urge you to refrain from becoming arrogant because it will lead to failure and people deserting you.”
Shaikh Mohammad told the team that he conveyed his congratulations to the team and UAE people through cables and social media sites.
Shaikh Mohammad praised the wonderful job carried out by Bahrain, the hosts of the Gulf Cup, and hailed the support of Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa for the championship and his hospitality for the GCC people who visited the country to attend the games. He said that Bahrain treated visitors with great Arab hospitality, respect and fraternity.
Shaikh Mohammad also pointed out the role played by the national media and its sincere support for the UAE football team and its victories. He particularly praised Abu Dhabi Sport channels’ full coverage of the championship, and its interaction with Emirati fans in the UAE and Bahrain.
Following the meeting and a cake-cutting ceremony, Shaikh Mohammad took a commemorative photo with the champions.