Dubai: UAE and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s playmaker Majid Hassan is targeting a clean sweep of trophies next season.
Hassan, a mainstay with club and country, was at his best in the season gone by as Shabab Al Ahli Dubai ended runners-up to Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) after earlier helping the UAE earn a semi-final spot at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup held on home soil.
Back after seven agonising months of knee surgery and recuperation last year, Hassan is now feeling that the best is yet to come.
“There were too many things happening last season. I had the injury on the one hand and the merger of the three clubs — Al Shabab, Al Ahli and Dubai — into one. That diverted a lot of our attention, but now I feel we are back at our best,” Hassan told Gulf News after attending the forum ‘Sports Imprint’ held as part of the Seventh Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Ramadan Sports Tournament earlier this week.
“I feel we are a team to beat. We are playing some good football and the concept of being together as one unit is once again right in front of us. I can see us going all the way in all the competitions we participate in next season.”
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ordered the merger of Al Ahli, Al Shabab and Dubai Club in May 2017 and Hassan said the change took some getting used to.
“The first season was tough as everyone was not exactly sure and certain which direction we were heading,” he said. “But, in a matter of just one year we have re-established our identity as one of the top clubs in the UAE, as can be seen by the results we brought in this season.”
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were not exactly off to their best start this season as they succumbed to four early defeats in the AGL before recovering well in the second half to end second with 53 points and earn the automatic qualifying spot for next year’s AFC Champions League.
“In the end I think we were playing our best, and the idea now will be to carry forward that same momentum when the new season starts in July,” he said.
“We’ve got to go for all trophies next year. All the domestic trophies and the AFC Champions League as well as Dubai prepares to host Expo 2020. That will be some memory for this team.”
The UAE FA has already released a tentative calendar for the 2019-20 season with the opening round matches for AFC Champions League slated for August 5-6.
The domestic season will commence with the first round matches of the Arabian Gulf Cup on August 12-13.