Al Shaab's 'commandos' a force to reckon with

Al Shaab Club in Sharjah was formed in 1974 after the merger of two small clubs - Al Omani Club and Sharjah Club (different from the present Sharjah Club, who play in the UAE First Division). Ismail Abdullah, the Al Shaab Club general secretary, told Gulf News about the club's history.

By Sayed Ali
00:00 January 4, 2001

Al Shaab Club in Sharjah was formed in 1974 after the merger of two small clubs - Al Omani Club and Sharjah Club (different from the present Sharjah Club, who play in the UAE First Division). Ismail Abdullah, the Al Shaab Club general secretary, told Gulf News about the club's history.

He said that His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, was one of the players of the old Al Shaab Club in the early 1960s. Dr. Sheikh Sultan established the Al Shaab Club at that time and from it the name Al Shaab came in 1974.

The Al Omani Club and Sharjah Club were established in 1967. Humaid bin Naser Al Owais, now Minister of Water and Electricity, was one of those who formed Al Omani Club, with Mohammed Rashid Al Jarawan, Abdul Rahman Ali Al Jarawan, Dr. Humaid Naser Al Zarri, along with Lal, a Pakistani player. Others to join the club are Omran Al Shihi, Sultan Humaid, Salim Obaid, Ali Abu Khalil and Ismail Abdullah, the present Al Shaab Club secretary-general.

The recently refurnished state-of-the-art locker rooms at the club. ©Gulf News
The Omani colours were green shirts and white shorts. The club house was in Sharq area in Sharjah, and the training ground was near Al Falah camp. Wasim Quttaina of Jordan was the first coach to train Al Omani Club.

Sharjah Club was established in Measalon in Sharjah. Sheikh Faisal bin Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi established the club with his brother Sultan, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Salim Al Qasimi, Chairman of Emiri Diwan and the present president of the club, Butti bin Obaid, Mohammed Hareb, Mohammed Al Doukhy, Dr. Ghanim Al Hajri, Ahmed Salim, Salim Ibrahim, Hussain Mohammed, Saeed Mubarak.

A Pakistani player called Ali Bakhsh played for the Sharjah Club at that time. The team's training ground was at Al Nasiriya area in Sharjah and the colours were red shirts and white shorts. Ismail Abdul Karim was the first coach to train Sharjah Club.

In 1974 the two clubs' board of directors agreed to merge the club into one, with the endorsement of the Sharjah government. The government approved the move to become one club under the name of "Al Shaab."

Sharjah government decided to unite all the Sharjah football teams into two strong clubs. The other two clubs to join hands were Al Khaleej and Al Orouba under the name of the now Sharjah Club.

In the same year a third team, Al Ahli, joined Al Shaab. Al Ahli was established in the Qarb (west) area in Sharjah. Al Ahli's best players Rehan Rashid, Hamad Al Mazroo, Sultan Harmol became members of the Al Shaab Club.

After the merger, Al Shaab shifted to a new premises in the Al Khaleej Club house, with a playground for training and playing matches. Sheikh Faisal bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the former Minister of Youth and Sports, was the president of the Al Shaab board of directors.

The others include, Humaid Naser Al Owais, Mohammed Rashid Al Jarwan, Dr. Humaid Naser Al Zari, Saeed Ali Al Jarwan, Ahmed Salim, Sultan Al Owais and Salim Obaid.

The club also houses an ultra-modern gymnasium. ©Gulf News
The team's new colours were red and blue. The players who represented Al Shaab at that time were Dr. Ghanim Al Hajri, Hussain Mohammed, Jasim Mohammed, Salim Kherais, Saleh Al Ramssi, Abdullah Abbas, Hamad Al Khedir, Abdul Rahman Ali, Ibrahim Bihair, Ayman Salim and Saeed Mubarak.

Al Shaab then joined the UAE Football Association. They played the play off and earned promotion to the First division after finishing runners-up. In 1977 Al Shaab shifted to their new stadium and club house in Um Khanoor. They were the first club in the UAE to plant their stadium with natural grass. The Khalid bin Mohammed stadium had a capacity of 5000 spectators at that time. They have increased it to 12000 by building a new stand in 1994.

Al Shaab also were the first club in the UAE to have their own swimming pool and indoor sports hall. Dr. Sheikh Sultan ordered a new clubhouse built for Al Shaab. He also ordered a closed swimming pool with heater. The old clubhouse is to be converted into a hotel to help the club's finances.

During the late 1970s, '80s and '90s, many players joined Al Shaab, and represented the club in the domestic tournaments. They are Ali Omer, Ghanim Bilal, Juma Mattar, Naser Al Taliyani, Redha Abbas, Moammar Salim, Adel Hadid, Humaid Thani, Butti Mohammed, Issa Mohammed and Rashid Suroor.

Al Shaab and UAE national team skipper Adnan Al Taliyan was named UAE player of the century. Adnan initially was volleyball player and represented the UAE youth national team in the Arab youth tournament in Bahrain in 1977.

Sheikh Faisal bin Khalid Al Qasimi, the former president of the club, on seeing his good leap advised him to play football. Adnan duly acceded to Sheikh Faisal's advise, and began playing football in 1980. Adnan was one of the players who made history when UAE qualified for the World Cup Finals in Italy in 1990. He also won many trophies with the UAE national team in the last 18 years.

Al Shaab Club stayed in the first division from 1975 until 1992 when they were relegated to the second division in that year. They returned in the next season to the top flight after they won the second division league championship.

In the same year they won the President's Cup after beating Al Wasl 2-1 in the Final in Abu Dhabi. They also won the Super Cup after overcoming Al Ain 2-1 in the Final held in Dubai. It was the club's best domestic achievements in their 26-year history. They had reached the Cup Final once before in 1982 and lost to Sharjah.

Al Shaab also won the silver medal in the Asian Cup Winners Cup when they hosted in 1995 at Khaid bin Mohammed Stadium. They lost the Final to Japanese club Jubilo Iwata through a golden goal in extra time. This is the best UAE club achievement in the Asian clubs tournaments so far.

Al Shaab club team was trained by many coaches during the last 26 years. English coach Jo Kinair, Mustafa Shawish of Sudan, Iranians Heshmat Mohajirani and Sharoukhi, Scot Eric Smith, Brazilians Paolo Hicki and Garcia, Zaki Osman and Ghanim Sultan of Egypt, Tunisian Fawzi Benzarti, Algerian Kamal Lamawi, Austrian Hekersberger. The team's current coach is Yugoslav Drajan Scocovic.

In the first era of the foreign players from 1975 to 1983 Al Shaab signed in excellent players like Fawzi Al Merrdhi, Al Rayah Jadain and Mahjoub Al Dhab of Sudan, Azizi and Hussain Faraki of Iran, Georgy of Senegal.

In the new foreigners era, which began in 1998, Al Shaab signed players like Moroccan Meloudy Mozakkar, Nelson of Brazil. Now they have Geert Brussleres of Holla