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Al Kamali hopeful of UAE Olympic boost

10 May 2012 16:40

UAE under-23 captain Hamdan Al Kamali hopes the team's 2012 London Olympic experience leads to more Emirati players heading to Europe.

The 23-year-old became the first UAE footballer to join a top European club when he signed with Ligue 1 outfit Lyon from Al Wahda on loan in January.

Al Kamali said he hopes the London Olympics can act as a catalyst for more Emirati footballers to move to Europe, as he believes they have the talent.

"We have a lot of talent back home, but our football can only progress if we get more contact with foreign championships," he said.

"Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed (Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi) has done a lot for football and the UAE Football Association takes care of training youngsters.

"I hope that taking part in the London Olympics will attract attention to Emirati players and that they’ll get the opportunity to play abroad."

UAE, who had never qualified for the Olympics before, have been drawn into a difficult group alongside hosts Great Britain, Uruguay and Senegal, but Al Kamali is hopeful they can progress to the knockout stage and beyond.

"We're pleased to have been drawn in such a difficult group as we can only improve by facing these opponents," he said.

"It won't be easy for us, but we're happy because we'll be playing in Europe's most prestigious stadiums, like Wembley and Old Trafford. I hope we can show the whole world the progress Emirati football has made.

"Our main goal is to get out of the group. If we manage to do that, things will become easier for us as we'll only be one match away from the semi-finals. I hope we can reach that stage."

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Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
11 5 -4 7
12 5 +2 6
13 5 +0 6
14 5 -1 6
15 5 -2 6

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