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Dubai: After five months of intense competition around the nation, the UAE’s best youth football teams from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Northern Emirates and Dubai faced off for the first time in the national semi-finals of du Football Champions, in partnership with La Liga.

More than 600 young players, aged 10 to 17, from both public and private schools and across 140 nationalities, gave it their all, fighting to secure their place in the DuFC finals which will take place later this month.

“Based on what we’ve seen, not only this weekend, but throughout the tournament since November, we expect the finals to be a memorable event showcasing the best youth football teams in the UAE,” said Abdul Wahid Juma, Executive VP, Brand & Corporate Communications at Du.

Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) paved their way to the finals in three categories: UAE Schools Cup Boys Under-16, U14, U12. Aside from DESC, top performing schools include Al Maarifa International Private School, The International School of Choueifat, and Rashid Bin Saeed. Speaking on the achievements of his teams thus far, DESC Head Coach Paul Barratt said, “We set out to make it to the finals with at least one of our teams, but to make it all the way with all our teams is amazing. In the four years that we’ve played this tournament, we’ve never made it this far, falling just short each time. We are thrilled with the results this year and hope to take home at least one cup.”

Al Maarifa U16 were knocked out by rookies New Academy School in a tense penalty shoot-out. Maarifa coach Moustafa Ramadan said: “Every year it ends in penalties for my team. The school has two teams in the finals, but not the U16 — maybe next year we’ll take home the prize.”

New Academy was later eliminated by DESC.

Also setting records in the UAE Girls Challenge, La Liga Valencia cleared their way to the finals having won all their games while conceding no goals. They will face City Football Club.