Dubai, United Arab Emirates: AS Roma were crowned champions of the 3rd edition of the Dubai Indoor Football Championship last night, which was held in partnership with Dubai Sports Council. They beat the Egyptian Stars with a dramatic late winner in front of a capacity crowd at the Sheikh Rashid Hall, Dubai Trade Centre.
In an absorbing contest, surprise package Egypt Stars took a third minute lead through Hisham Rizk and put pressure on their illustrious opponents. But it did not take the Italians long to come back into the game and score in the seventh minute through Alessio Scharchilli. With half-time approaching, the Italians and the regional favourites had opportunities to take the lead, but did not take the chances and went into the break 1-1.
In the second-half, player of the tournament Damiano Tomassi and Egypt Stars Adil Ebrahim had great opportunities to give their team the all-important second goal but were unable to in the tight and nervy final. With the game heading into extra-time, the Romans finally took their chance and with it, the championship, as Massimiliano Cappioli scored the winning goal in the dying seconds.
In the first semi-final on the fifth and final night of the tournament, Egypt Stars completed the El Clasico double. After beating Real Madrid in the group stages, they beat FC Barcelona 2-1 after extra-time in a tense game. The Catalans took the lead after six minutes in normal time through Santi Ezquerro and made it hard for their rivals to breach their defense. But the Egyptians finally equalised through Ahmad Abdrabou after 29 mins and took the game into extra-time. With time running out and the game heading towards penalties, Mahmood Mohammed scored the all-important goal to book his country’s first appearance in the final of the championship. Last season, the regional favourites lost in the semi-final.
In the second semi-final, it was a cagey affair in the first half between Real Madrid and AS Roma before springing into life in the second. The Italians took the lead after 23 minutes through Carlo Cherubini and the Spanish had to wait until the 31st minute to equalise through one of players of the tournament, Ruben da la Red. It did not take long for AS Roma to hit back and score the winner through Massimiliano Cappioli in the 34th minute to make it 2-1. Real Madrid went close in the dying seconds through Ruben de la Red but to no avail.
Ahmed Alkhaja, Senior Vice President – Venues, Dubai World Trade Centre said: “We are delighted to have hosted such a great event with teams from Europe and the region, in partnership with our strategic partner, Dubai Sports Council. It has been an entertaining week with fantastic football and within the spirit of the game, and was fitting that the championship went right down to the final seconds. We look forward to welcoming the teams again next year and maintaining our commitment of positioning Dubai as a leading sporting destination.”
The Dubai Indoor Football Championship took place alongside Dubai Sports World, the region’s largest indoor sporting event. It was organised by Dubai World Trade Centre in partnership with Dubai Sports Council, and was sponsored by Emirates NBD, Chevrolet, Decathlon and Power Horse.