Saudi Arabian Football Federation discuss striking deal with Manchester City during Abu Dhabi visit

Saudi Arabian Football Federation president Adel Ezzat presents Sheikh Mansour with a token of the Federation's appreciation. (@SAFF)
Updated 16 March 2018

Saudi Arabian Football Federation discuss striking deal with Manchester City during Abu Dhabi visit

Top officials from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) met Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour and members of the Premier League leaders squad in Abu Dhabi this week.

The delegation, led by SAFF President Adel Ezzat, were in the UAE capital to meet members of the ruling family, deepen ties with their counterparts at the UAE Football Association and hold talks over “signing several agreements between Manchester City and SAFF,” according to a post on the SAFF Twitter account.

“The two parties agreed to extend cooperation between the SAFF and the UAE Football Association for the best interests of developing football in both countries,” read the statement. “It was also agreed that discussion are to commence toward signing several agreements between Manchester City and SAFF.”

Manchester City are in Abu Dhabi this week for some warm-weather training at Emirates Palace during a break in their fixture list. The party from the SAFF had pictures taken with Yaya Toure, Leroy Sane and John Stones and also presented a signed Saudi Arabia national team shirt to City captain Vincent Kompany. Saudi Arabia play Kompany’s Belgium side in a friendly later this month.

“The SAFF delegation held meetings with Manchester City staff and players to discuss areas of mutual interest,” added the statement. “They also toured the training camp and were briefed on the team’s plans while in Abu Dhabi.”

Ezzat later met UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour and Sheikh Hazza, Vice President of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and presented them with a signed Saudi Arabian national team jersey and a shield in appreciation for their generosity in hosting the SAFF delegation.

“His Highness Sheikh Hazza congratulated the SAFF on Saudi Arabia’s qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and wished them good luck in the global event,” added the statement.

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.


For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.


Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.


As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.