UAE Pro League Chairman Abdulla Naser Al-Jneibi expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Arabian Gulf League representatives in the AFC Champions League.
He added that the clubs’ performances in the competition reflected the promising side of Emirati football, as Sharjah and Al Wahda qualified to the Round of 16, while Shabab Al Ahli gave their all and will definitely be able to come back stronger in the next seasons.
Al-Jneibi congratulated Sharjah and Al Wahda on their achievement. He praised Sharjah’s team spirit and the collaboration between the technical staff, the administrative team, and the players. He added that despite the absence of important players for injuries, they showed great determination and finished as group winners, sealing their qualification with a game to spare.
Despite Al Wahda’s tough trip to India and the special circumstances they have been through, the team proved their abilities as an honorable representative of Emirati football on the global stage, according to Al-Jneibi.
Al Wahda qualified to the next stage with the highest number of points for second-place finishers in the West Zone, which highlights the abilities of the young talents in the team, as they managed to blend with their experienced counterparts and put in balanced performances. They also managed to come back from their defeat in the opening game to maintain an unbeaten run throughout the rest of the group stage.
The UAE Pro League Chairman said that despite Shabab Al Ahli’s elimination, the team was able to put in good technical performances in the competition. They, however, were unlucky in the final minutes. He is confident that the 2015 runners-up will make a strong comeback in the next seasons and will try to advance further in the competition.
Al-Jneibi also expressed hopes for a strong comeback by Al Ain in the AFC Champions League as they are the only Emirati team to have claimed the competition's title and finished twice as runners-up. He added that Al Ain, who were eliminated from the playoffs, are capable to reclaim their spot in the continental competition.
Al-Jneibi stressed the importance of the clubs' achievements in the current edition of the AFC Champions League. With three matchweeks left in the Arabian Gulf League calendar, he believes they represent an extra incentive and responsibility for teams' taking part in the next edition.