Friday 14 December 2018, 12:09

Elshahat: World title in Al Ain's sights

  • UAE’s Al Ain reached the quarter-final after eliminating Team Wellington

  • They now face Esperance of Tunisia in an all-Arab showdown

  • Hussein Elshahat discusses upcoming quarter-final and Al Ain's ambitions

Ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup opener on Wednesday, no-one expected Team Wellington to take a 3-0 lead against the host nation’s Al Ain.

After all, the New Zealanders had a relatively inexperienced squad and were making their debut at this global event, while the Emiratis were playing on home soil in front of their own fans. Yet for all that, it was the Al Ain players and fans who were visibly stunned as the visitors opened up a 3-0 first-half lead.

But equally amazing was Al Ain's comeback. Never in the history of the Club World Cup has a team come from three down and gone on to win on penalties. "Turning around that score-ine was extremely difficult, especially in a competition like this," Al Ain right-winger Hussein Elshahat told when asked about his side's achievement.

"What we did was extremely significant. I believe the goal we scored just before half-time really helped us come out for the second half with a different mindset. That first goal was decisive in the final result."

The match - Second roundEsperance - Al Ain
Where:Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
When:15 Dec 2018 - 20:30 Local time

Avoiding the same mistakes

When a team wins, most people tend to talk about the positive aspects of the performance and downplay the negative ones. But the Egyptian wide man is not one of these and will be urging his team-mates to avoid making the same mistakes in their quarter-final against Esperance of Tunisia.

"We must learn from the match against Team Wellington and score early to help stay in control of things and win," he insisted. "It's very important that we score first and don’t repeat the first game's scenario. We need to be more focused on the next matchday."

Elshahat knows Esperance very well, having watched them win the CAF Champions League this year at the expense of his country's league champions Al Ahly. "If you emerge as African champion in a final against Al Ahly, then you must have a great line-up. It’s going to be a tough game as they’re a highly regarded club, and we must respect them if we’re going to prevail. Nonetheless, we still hope to win and advance to the semi-final."

About Elshahat

  • Hussein Elshahat played for Egypt's Misr El-Makkasa before joining Al Ain

  • After impressive club form, he was called up to the Egypt national team for the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier against Niger

  • Elshahat is renowned for his ability to cut into the penalty area and his keen tactical awareness

Lofty ambition

As the old saying goes, the more you eat the better your appetite becomes, and the win over Team Wellington has certainly whetted the appetite of Elshahat, who is putting no ceiling on his side’s ambition. "Our goal is to compete for and win the title. Since we're playing on home soil and will have passionate support from our fans, the title has to be considered."

The player believes that if they are to achieve their goal at UAE 2018, their fans will need to play a big part. "Our supporters were more important than the players against Team Wellington," he said. "They motivated us to turn the game around and encouraged us in the difficult moments. Now we need them again in the upcoming encounter against Esperance. We’re hoping for even greater support to achieve a positive result."