United Arab Emirates national football team

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United Arab Emirates
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Al-Abyad (The Whites)
Eyal Zayed (Zayed's sons)
Association U.A.E. Football Association
Sub-confederation WAFF (West Asia)
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Head coach Mahdi Ali
Captain Majed Naser
Most caps Adnan Al Talyani (161)
Top scorer Adnan Al Talyani (52)
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 64 Increase 1 (7 January 2016)
Highest 42 (November 1998)
Lowest 138 (January 2012)
First international
 United Arab Emirates 1–0 Qatar 
(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; March 17, 1972)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 1990)
Best result Group stage; 1990
Asian Cup
Appearances 9 (First in 1980)
Best result Runners-up; 1996
Confederations Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 1997)
Best result Group stage; 1997

The United Arab Emirates national football team (Arabic: منتخب الإمارات العربية المتحدة لكرة القدم‎‎) represents the United Arab Emirates in association football and is controlled by the United Arab Emirates Football Association, the governing body for football in United Arab Emirates and competes in AFC (the Asian Football Confederation). The team is popularly known as Al-Abyad (The Whites).

United Arab Emirates' home ground varies. Most home games have been played at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi with Abu Dhabi's Al Jazira Stadium and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain as other venues.

It has made one World Cup appearance, in 1990 in Italy, but lost all three of its games to Colombia, West Germany and Yugoslavia. Two years later the UAE took fourth place in the 1992 Asian Cup, and runner-up in 1996 as hosts of the tournament. In both tournaments their final match was lost on penalty kicks. They also won the Gulf Cup of Nations on two occasions - in 2007 when they won a title for the first time in their history and then in 2013. They finished third in the recent AFC Asian Cup and will be hosting the next edition in 2019.


Early years

The first match of UAE national football team was played on 17 March 1972, four months after the union of the United Arab Emirates. They played against Qatar at Riyadh's Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium and UAE won 1–0 with the only goal scored by Ahmed Chowbi. Then, the team faced three other Arabian countries, losing 4–0 and 7–0 to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait respectively and beating Bahrain 3 nothing.

After participating in four Gulf Cup of Nations since 1972, the UAE hosted the 1982 edition. They again finished third, as they did in the two previous tournaments.

First Asian Cup appearances

In 1980, UAE qualified for the first time for the AFC Asian Cup, which was held in Kuwait. They were drawn with eventual winners, Kuwait, runner-up South Korea, Malaysia and Qatar in Group B. They drew 1–1 with Kuwait but lost the three other matches and finished their first appearance at the tournament in fifth place in their group and ninth (out of ten teams) overall.

They also qualified for next two tournaments, 1984 in Singapore and 1988 in Qatar and were again eliminated in the group stages in both. Their first victory of the tournament occurred against India on 7 December 1984 under manager Heshmat Mohajerani.

1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy

In 1984, Mohajerani resigned as UAE head coach and was replaced with former Brazil manager Carlos Alberto Parreira. Parreira led the country at the 1988 AFC Asian Cup and left his position after the tournament. He was succeeded by Brazilian World Cup winning coach Mário Zagallo. Zagallo led the country to qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. However, Zagallo resigned before the tournament and Parreira returned as head coach to lead UAE at the tournament.

They were drawn at Group D along with eventual winner West Germany, Colombia and Yugoslavia. They lost 2–0 to Colombia, 5–1 to West Germany and 4–1 to Yugoslavia. They finished fourth with no points, scoring two goals and conceding eleven goals. UAE's first goal at the tournament was scored by Khalid Ismaïl against West Germany. After the tournament, Parreira was sacked. Two years later, at the 1992 AFC Asian Cup, UAE finished in fourth place, their best finish up to that date.

1996 AFC Asian Cup

UAE hosted 1996 AFC Asian Cup. They hired Croatian coach Tomislav Ivić one year before the tournament and were drawn in Group A along with Kuwait, South Korea and Indonesia. They drew 1–1 with South Korea in the opening match, then defeated Kuwait 3–2 and Indonesia 2–0 to qualify as group winners with seven points. In the quarter-finals, they beat Iraq 1–0 with a golden goal scored by Abdulrahman Ibrahim in the 103rd minute in extra time. They again faced Kuwait, this time at the semi-finals and won 1–0 to qualify to the final for the first time. In the final, they lost to Saudi Arabia in a penalty shout-out and finished the tournament as runner-up, which is still their best finish in the AFC Asian Cup.

The tournament was also considered to be one of the best tournaments held since 1956. The tournament had an average 3.08 goals per game with 80 goals scored, 49 goals higher than the previous edition.

UAE also appeared in 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup after being awarded a spot because Asian winners Saudi Arabia was hosting the games. They lost the first match 2–0 to Uruguay. Then, they defeated South Africa 1–0. In their final match, they were defeated 6–1 by Czech Republic and missed their chance to qualify for the next round finishing third in their group.

Fahad Khamees captained UAE in the 1990 FIFA World Cup

Dark years

Despite their good performances at previous Asian Cup, UAE missed qualification for the 2000 AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon. They also finished in last place at the 2002 Gulf Cup of Nations.

They were eliminated in the next three AFC Asian Cup tournaments at the group stage. Their worst performance was in 2011 when they finished the tournament goalless. At this time, many notable coaches managed UAE, including Carlos Queiroz, Roy Hodgson and Dick Advocaat. In 2006, UAE appointed Senegal's 2002 FIFA World Cup head coach, Bruno Metsu as their new manager. He led UAE to the 2007 Gulf Cup of Nations title, the country's first major achievement.

Recent successes

After hiring many notable European coaches, in 2012, UAE appointed Olympic team coach Mahdi Ali as the new manager of the national team. Ali previously led the country to their first ever appearance at the Olympic Games.

Ali began creating a young squad for UAE, inviting many players that he had worked with at youth level. He led UAE to their second Gulf Cup of Nations title in 2013.

2015 AFC Asian Cup

UAE's form at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup was a surprise. They were drawn in Group C along with Iran, Qatar and Bahrain. They defeated Qatar 4–1 in their first match. At the next match, they defeated Bahrain 2–1 which qualified them for the knockout stage. In the group's final game, UAE lost 1–0 to Iran and advanced as group runner-up. They faced defending champions Japan in the quarter-final and won the match in a penalty shootout to advance to the last four. However, they lost 2–0 to host country Australia in the semi-finals. In the third place play-off, they beat Iraq 3–2 and finished the tournament in the third place. UAE will be hosting the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.


The United Arab Emirates is known by supporters and the media as Al-Abyad, meaning The Whites and also Eyal Zayed which means Zayed's sons.

In October 2012, the Asian Football Confederation official website published an article about the UAE national team's campaign to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, in which the team was referred to as the "Sand Monkeys." This was the indirect result of vandalism of the Wikipedia article on the team, and the AFC was forced to apologise for what was perceived as a racist slur.[1]

Home stadium

UAE's main national stadium is Sheikh Zayed Stadium, located in capital Abu Dhabi. However, UAE has also used Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Al Jazira Stadium) and newly constructed Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

Historical Kits

1990 Home
1990 Away
1992 Asian Cup Home
1994 Asian Games Home
1994 Asian Games Away

Coaching staff

Head coach United Arab Emirates Mahdi Ali
Assistant coach United Arab Emirates Abdullah Masfar
Goalkeeping coach Serbia Branko Davidović
Fitness coach France Pierre Barrieu
Team doctor United Arab Emirates Ammar Awad
Technical director Germany Bernhard Schumm


Current squad

Match Date: 11–30 January 2015 (2015 AFC Asian Cup)
Opposition:  Iraq
Caps and goals correct as of: 30 January 2015 after match against Iraq.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Majed Naser (Captain) (1984-04-01) 1 April 1984 (age 35) 69 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ahli
12 1GK Khalid Eisa (1989-09-15) 15 September 1989 (age 30) 1 0 United Arab Emirates Al Ain
22 1GK Mohamed Yousif (1991-05-25) 25 May 1991 (age 28) 0 0 United Arab Emirates Sharjah

3 2DF Walid Abbas (1985-06-11) 11 June 1985 (age 34) 20 4 United Arab Emirates Al-Ahli
6 2DF Mohanad Salem (1985-03-01) 1 March 1985 (age 34) 8 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain
8 2DF Hamdan Al-Kamali (1989-05-02) 2 May 1989 (age 30) 33 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Wahda
9 2DF Abdulaziz Hussain (1990-09-10) 10 September 1990 (age 29) 11 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ahli
14 2DF Abdelaziz Sanqour (1989-05-07) 7 May 1989 (age 30) 8 0 United Arab Emirates Al Ahli
18 2DF Mohammed Fawzi (1990-02-22) 22 February 1990 (age 29) 4 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain
19 2DF Mohamed Ismail Ahmed Ismail (1983-07-01) 1 July 1983 (age 36) 3 0 United Arab Emirates Al Ain
23 2DF Mohamed Ahmed (1989-04-16) 16 April 1989 (age 30) 13 0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain

2 3MF Hassan Ibrahim (1990-10-19) 19 October 1990 (age 29) 4 0 United Arab Emirates Al Shabab
4 3MF Habib Fardan (1990-11-11) 11 November 1990 (age 29) 18 7 United Arab Emirates Al Ahli
5 3MF Amer Abdulrahman (1989-07-03) 3 July 1989 (age 30) 43 2 United Arab Emirates Baniyas
10 3MF Omar Abdulrahman (1991-09-20) 20 September 1991 (age 28) 32 3 United Arab Emirates Al Ain
13 3MF Khamis Esmaeel (1989-08-16) 16 August 1989 (age 30) 12 0 United Arab Emirates Al Jazira Club
15 3MF Ismail Al Hammadi (1988-07-01) 1 July 1988 (age 31) 56 7 United Arab Emirates Al-Ahli
16 3MF Mohamed Abdulrahman (1989-01-01) 1 January 1989 (age 30) 5 0 United Arab Emirates Al Ain
17 3MF Majed Hassan (1992-08-01) 1 August 1992 (age 27) 7 1 United Arab Emirates Al-Ahli
21 3MF Haboush Saleh (1989-07-13) 13 July 1989 (age 30) 9 0 United Arab Emirates Baniyas

7 4FW Ali Mabkhout (1990-10-05) 5 October 1990 (age 29) 42 31 United Arab Emirates Al Jazira Club
11 4FW Ahmed Khalil (1991-06-08) 8 June 1991 (age 28) 72 36 United Arab Emirates Al Ahli
20 4FW Saeed Al-Kathiri (1988-03-28) 28 March 1988 (age 31) 16 4 United Arab Emirates Al Ain

Recent and forthcoming fixtures




Tournament records

FIFA World Cup record

World Cup record
Year Round Position GP W D* L GS GA
Uruguay 1930 to Germany 1974 Not eligible to enter - - - - - - -
Argentina 1978 Withdrew - - - - - - -
Spain 1982 Did not enter - - - - - - -
Mexico 1986 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
Italy 1990 Group stage 24th 3 0 0 3 2 11
United States 1994 to Brazil 2014 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
Russia 2018 TBD - - - - - - -
Total Round 1 1/20 3 0 0 3 2 11
* Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

AFC Asian Cup record

Year Round Position GP W D* L GS GA
Hong Kong 1956 to Iran 1976 Did not enter
Kuwait 1980 Group stage 9th 4 0 1 3 3 9
Singapore1984 Group stage 6th 4 2 0 2 3 8
Qatar 1988 Group stage 8th 4 1 0 3 2 4
Japan 1992 Fourth place 4th 3 1 2 0 2 1
United Arab Emirates 1996 Runners-up 2nd 6 4 2 0 8 3
Lebanon 2000 Did not qualify
China 2004 Group stage 15th 3 0 1 2 1 5
IndonesiaMalaysiaThailandVietnam 2007 Group stage 12th 3 1 0 2 3 6
Qatar 2011 Group stage 13th 3 0 1 2 0 4
Australia 2015 Third place 3rd 6 3 1 2 10 8
United Arab Emirates 2019 Qualified 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9/16 Second place 36 12 8 16 32 48

FIFA Confederations Cup record

FIFA Confederations Cup record
Year Round Position Pld W D * L GF GA
Saudi Arabia 1992 Did not qualify
Saudi Arabia 1995
Saudi Arabia 1997 Group stage 6th 3 1 0 2 2 8
Mexico 1999 Did not qualify
South Korea Japan 2001
France 2003
Germany 2005
South Africa 2009
Brazil 2013
Russia 2017
Total Group stage 1/10 3 1 0 2 2 8


Active players are shown in Bold. As of November 12, 2015.


Major competitions

Runner-up (1): 1996
Third place (1): 2015
Fourth place (1): 1992
Winners (2): 2007, 2013
Runner-up (3): 1986, 1988, 1994
Third place (5): 1972, 1976, 1982, 1998, 2014

Minor competitions

Winners (1): 2005

See also


  1. Yahoo! Sports: Asian Football Confederation apologize for calling UAE national team ‘Sand Monkeys’
  2. "S. Korea to travel to Southeast Asia for friendly, World Cup qualifier". Yonhap News Agency. 26 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Roberto Mamrud; Karel Stokkermans. "Players with 100+ Caps and 30+ International Goals". RSSSF. Retrieved 2012-04-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Timor-Leste hosted the UAE in Malaysia due to the lack of a suitable venue in Dili.[2]

External links