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    UAE can qualify for 2018 World Cup: Gabriel Calderon

    Nation capable of hosting a World Cup: Gabriel Calderon

    Former Argentine international Gabriel Calderon backed the UAE to qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup and also added that the country is capable of hosting the pinnacle of football, in the future. The UAE missed out on making it to the Fifa World Cup to be held in Brazil in 2014 but they have set their sights on qualification for the Fifa World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018.

    Since Mahdi Ali took over as coach last year, the UAE have been on a roll, so to speak. The Emiratis are currently on a 19-match winning streak, which began last September. The UAE won the Gulf Cup in Bahrain, earlier this year.

    Gabriel Calderon feels so fortunate to be part of the World Cup tour. — KT photo by Nzar BaloutThe UAE have also qualified for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in Australia in 2015.

    With a talented bunch of players like Omar Abdulrahmam, Ali Ahmed Mabkhout, Amer Abdulrahman, Haboush Saleh, Salem Saleh, Khamis Ismail, Ismail Matar, Habib Al Fardan and goalkeeper Ali Khaseif, to name a few, the UAE have the team to become a powerhouse in Asia.

    The UAE are currently ranked 71 in the world and seventh in Asia. Calderon, who coached UAE club Bani Yas during the 2011-12 season, said that this team will continue to perform and scale new heights.

    “This team is very good. They are a very strong team. Of course, they have a good coach and players who played together for the past five to six years. I have confidence that this team will continue to perform. They can qualify for the World Cup in 2018. Of course, the World Cup is not easy. It is difficult. But they have the team to qualify,” Calderon told the Khaleej Times on Sunday.

    During his stint with Bani Yas, the Argentine saved them from relegation, lifting them from 11th to ninth. He also led them to the final of the President’s Cup, which they lost to Al Jazira. He also took them to the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League for the first time.

    Calderon, who has spent considerable time in the Middle East and especially the UAE, said that the UAE were capable of hosting the World Cup. “The UAE are well equipped to host a World Cup in the future,” he said.

    The country is no stranger to hosting big football events. The UAE has played host to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup, the Fifa Club World Cup twice and more recently, the Fifa Under-17 World Cup. Calderon was back in Abu Dhabi as the Fifa Ambassador. “I feel so fortunate to be a part of the 2013 Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour. As someone who actually played in the Fifa World Cup, I know firsthand the exhilaration the sport brings. To be able to spread that joy with Coca-Cola and Fifa, and see how happy it makes people, is truly a privilege,” said Calderon.

    (Khaleej Times)

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