In the pages of local newspapers are repeated day after day information about the victory of Al Ain on River Plate in the semifinals of the Club World Cup that placed the host team in the final for the third time in the history of the tournament. Your footballers, most amateurs, they occupy covers thanks to what in the United Arab Emirates has acquired the status of sportsmanship. His presence in this afternoon's game against Real Madrid is the biggest event in the history of a club with only half a century of existence, and that the last time he experienced something similar was in 2003, when he was champion of the AFC, the Champions Asian This season they have achieved the double by winning the Arab League of the Gulf and the President's Cup of the Emirates.
"A Smart can sometimes overtake a great Mercedes," Zoran Mamic, the Croatian coach who leads Al Ain, said on Friday, and whose post hung by a thread with the 0-3 that endorsed him in the first 45 minutes of the first match that his team played against New Zealand Wellington. However, that comeback (3-3) and later victory in penalties served as a shuttle for those obtained against Tunisian Esperance (0-3), and especially River Plate (5-4 on penalties after drawing two ), have placed him as one of the personalities of the moment in the country.
"Nothing is impossible neither for the one who plays football nor for the rest of the sports," said Mamic, a character whose presence in the Emirates originates in the courts. A sentence of four years and eleven months in prison for embezzlement during his tenure at Dinamo Zagreb catapulted him to a country with which Croatia does not share an extradition treaty. Mamic and his brother Zdravko, who occupied the position of executive director in the Croatian team, as evidenced by the ruling, diverted money from several transfers, such as Modric to Tottenham in 2008 or Kovacic to Inter Milan in 2013, among others.
In the epic tour of the Emirati team until the decisive match – today's will be his fourth duel in ten days – the figure of Khalid Eissa has excelled. The goalkeeper of Al Ain and the selection rivals popularity with Mamic. "He is the best goalkeeper in the country and a good man. He asked me what I could do on penalties and I told him to wait, because he is very quick with movements and has the possibility of stopping penalties if he does it ", the coach described him. Apart from Eissa, Al Ain has two players above the average, signed with a checkbook: the Swedish striker Marcus Berg, with past in the Eridivisie (Groningen and PSV), the Bundesliga (Hamburg) and the Greek league (Panathinaikos); and the Brazilian winger Caio, one of the most active players in attack, scorer in the match against River, and who played but did not play with Kashima Antlers in the final of the tournament. mundialito that the Japanese played against Madrid in 2016.
Not even the most optimistic fans of Al Ain imagine their Smart overtaking the white Mercedes. But the feeling of competing at least in the same circuit is something that none of them will forget.