Dubai: Defending champions Valencia will meet Al Nasr of Saudi Arabia after the two secured contrasting semi-final wins in the fourth Hamdan Bin Mohammad U-17 International Football Championship on Friday. Valencia tamed 10-man Al Ahli of Dubai 3-1 while the Saudi Arabian champions romped home 3-0 over Italian side Torino FC.
The final will be held at the Al Tayer ground at Al Nasr Club at 5pm on Sunday.
No team has successfully defended the trophy in the past three years of this competition that is held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman, Dubai Sports Council, to provide an opportunity to youngsters from Dubai clubs to experience different styles of football.
Valencia was always in-charge of proceedings against Al Ahli, the only team from Dubai advancing to the knockout stages this year. Minguel Marie headed in the first off a cross from Javier Zarzo in the 15th minute following which the local team was reduced to ten with a red card to Abdullah Salman in the 25th minute.
Toni Martinez made it 2-0 in the 37th minute for the Spaniards to go in for the break with a comfortable lead. However, Al Ahli skipper Faisal Yousuf Murad pulled one back early in the second half before Rafa Mir came off the bench to put the issue beyond doubt in the 65th minute.
“In Spanish football we believe that we do not just play in the final. We play to win the trophy,” Valencia coach Ruben Mora told Gulf News.
“We will be on the ground to defend our title and create a new chapter in this competition,” he promised.
The second match was a closely contested affair despite the scoreline. Urged on by their coach Sa’ad Ali Shahri, Al Nasr played the perfect waiting game to take the chances that came their way and outplay the Italians.
Sami Khalil was the hero for the Saudi outfit as he scored in quick succession in the 30th and 37th minute. They then withstood everything that was thrown at them by Torino to add a third through Mohammad Sa’ad Shahrani in the 75th minute.
“We played to a plan and we are extremely pleased with this win. I can promise you that the final will be a close encounter,” Al Nasr coach Shahri promised.