Dubai: UAE and Shabab Al Ahli playmaker Majid Hassan is hoping to be in contention for a place in coach Alberto Zaccheroni’s list of probables for the 2019 Asian Cup to be hosted by the UAE.
The continental competition is scheduled to be held at several venues across the country from January 5 to February 1 with Zaccheroni keeping his options open before announcing a list of at least 50 to start preparations post-Ramadan next month.
Hassan, who had been a regular in the national squad under former coach Mahdi Ali, has struggled with a serious knee injury, which, in fact, was a case study during the Fifa-organised Fifth Congress of ECOSEP held in Dubai, in December last year.
Since then, Hassan has made a steady recovery and managed to find his way into the playing eleven for his club.
“There has been an issue with a hip adductor muscle of late, but I hope this is just a minor thing and I can sustain my fitness level and get myself up for selection into the initial squad for the Asian Cup,” Hassan told Gulf News as he joined some of his teammates at the Eighth Maktoum Memorial Football Championship being played at the Dubai Police Officers Club.
“As the national team, we have challenged ourselves at the regional level and we know how good we can be on our day. We ended third at the last Asian Cup [Australia 2015] and it would be a dream comes true if we can end as Asian champions before our home crowd next year,” Hassan added.
Meanwhile, hosts and defending champions Dubai Police became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Maktoum Memorial Football Championship. The hosts subdued Ras Al Khaimah Civil Defence 3-1 to go top in Group A with seven points and one game in hand. Their closest opponents, Leader Sport, scored at will, with Manae Saeed registering a hat-trick, to thrash Sharjah Falcon 8-0 to take their tally up to five points and keep their hopes alive in the group.
“The last one will be a tricky match,” admitted Dubai Police skipper Mohammad Abdullah.
“We need at least a draw, but we are confident we can go all out for full points and end at the top of our group,” he added.
In other matches played on Wednesday, the Late Ebrahim Marouf Team stunned the Faisal Khalil-led Mohammad Ali Taim Team 2-1, while Nasser Juma Khamis struck seven minutes from the final whistle to help Al Khoury Hotels to their first win in three matches with a solitary-goal result against Al Fursan.
Khoury Hotels bt Al Fursan 1-0
Late Ebrahim Marouf Team bt Mohammad Ali Taim Team 2-1
Leader Sport bt Sharjah Falcon 8-0
Dubai Police bt Ras Al Khaimah Civil Defence 3-1