Coaches and team captains during the press conference on the launch of Etisalat Pro League, at the Armani Hotel in Burj Khalifa, Dubai, on Thursday. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/Gulf News

Dubai: The fourth edition of the Etisalat Pro League was yesterday launched with a promise to make it bigger and better at a function at the Armani Hotel here.

"We've made a significant progress in our league and it is our aim to continue learning and improving as we enter the fourth year of our league," Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, Vice-President, UAE Football Association (UAE FA), said in his opening remarks.

"All members of the board share a common goal of achieving success. And we want to better this by continuing our search for excellence," he added.

A special technical committee from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) conducted an inspection of the 12 clubs involved in the Etisalat Pro League last week. With the exception of newcomers Dubai Club, the rest of the teams were given a high rating.

"Attendance for matches has always been a concern for the league, but we have managed considerable amount of success here as well. As major sponsors etisalat has been very supportive of all that we have done to take this aspect to a higher level," Hussain said.

"All players and coaches involved are here to inspire the fans to come and join the party. While running a successful league we will also have youth development programmes so that we become a better footballing nation and the future of UAE football will be bright," he added.


Ali Al Ahmad, Chief Corporate Communications Officer, etisalat, saw the hosting of the pre-event launch at the Burj Khalifa as a "significant yardstick towards success". "We are the best in so many areas, so why can't we also be on the top in football?" Al Ahmad said.

"Success is a continuation of our existence and everyone has the right to dream and to achieve for one's country, club and self. Sponsoring the league is part of our social belief at etisalat and now we hope this will fuel the dreams of the next generation of footballers," he added.

Al Jazira will host Al Ahli at home tomorrow and coach Franky Vercauteren kept his focus firm. "Our goal is to win as many matches as possible," the Belgian said.

Bani Yas, who were runners-up last season were hopefully of going one step further. "We hope that with our knowledge and hard work we can help to improve the football and contribute towards a strong league," coach Jorvan Vieira said.

With a strong line-up and boosted by an equally good bench strength, Al Wahda and Al Ahli are among the title contenders. "While I wish all the teams success in this league, I am aware that there can be only one winner, and inshallah it will be my team," coach Josef Hickersberger said.

Al Ahli coach Ivan Hasek said the focus is to develop local players and the league in order to get a strong national squad.