Al Ain Football Club (Arabic: نادي العين لكرة القدم; transliterated: Nady al-'Ayn) or Al Ain FC or simply Al Ain is a professional football club, based in the city of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It is one of many sport sections of the multi-sports club Al Ain Sports and Cultural Club (Arabic: نادي العين الرياضي الثقافي) Al Ain SCC for short.

Al Ain FC
نادي العين
Alainnewlogo.png
Full nameAl Ain Football Club
نادي العين لكرة القدم
Nickname(s)Al Zaeem (The Boss)
Short nameAIN
FoundedAugust 1968; 54 years ago (1968-08)
as Al Ain Sports Club
GroundHazza Bin Zayed
Capacity25,053
OwnerMohamed Bin Zayed
ManagerSerhiy Rebrov
LeagueUAE Pro League
2021–22UAE Pro League, 1st (Champions)
WebsiteClub website
Current season

The club was founded in 1968 by players from Al Ain, members of a Bahraini group of exchange students and the Sudanese community working in the United Arab Emirates.[1] The team quickly gained popularity and recognition throughout the country, being the team with the most trophies (35 in total).[2]

Al Ain is by far the most successful club in the UAE.[3] Al Ain has won a record 14 UAE Pro League, 7 President's Cups, 5 Super Cups, 3 Federation Cups, two League Cup, two Abu Dhabi Championship, Gulf Club Champions Cup and AFC Champions League. The club is the first and only UAE side so far to win the AFC Champions League.[4]

HistoryEdit

Squad of season 1975-76
Jasim Al Dhaheri
Subait Anbar
Saeed Mubarak
Ahmed Hajeer
Abdullah Matar
Fayez Subait
Juma Khalaf
Abdelhafez Arab
Ahmed Al Qatari
Shaya Masoud
Ali Saeed
Awad Saeed

Foundation and early yearsEdit

In the early 1960s, a group of young men learned the rules of the game by watching British soldiers playing football and formed their own team. The first pitch was very simple and small, taking the shape of a square sandy plot of land on the main street near the Clock Roundabout in Al Ain.[5] In August 1968, the club was officially established, taking its name from the city they lived. The founders thought it was necessary to have a permanent headquarters for the club and rented a house on the current Khalifa Road for club meetings. The club's founders took responsibility for all the club's affairs, from planning the stadium to cleaning the club headquarters and washing the kit.[5] Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was approached for assistance and he provided the club
with a permanent headquarters in the Al Jahili district and a Land Rover to serve the club and the team.[6] Al Ain made a successful debut by beating a team made up of British soldiers and went on to play friendly matches against other Abu Dhabi clubs. In 1971, the team played their first match against international opposition when they were defeated 7–0 by the Egyptian club Ismaily in a friendly match for the war effort.

In 1971, a group members of the club (Hadher Khalaf Al Muhairi, Saleem Al Khudrawi, Mohammed Khalaf Al Muhairi and Mahmoud Fadhlullah) broke away and founded Al Tadhamun Club.[7] In 1971, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan provided the club with new headquarters with modern specifications: the Khalifa Stadium in Al Sarooj district.[6] In 1974 Al Ain combined with the breakaway Al Tadhamun, to form the Al Ain Sports Club. The first board of directors of the club was formed after the merger under the chairmanship Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri.[7]

The founders were Mohammed Saleh Bin Badooh and Khalifa Nasser Al Suwaidi, Saeed Bin Ghannoum Al Hameli, Abdullah Hazzam, Salem Hassan Al Muhairi, Abdullah and Mane'a Ajlan, Saeed Al Muwaisi, Nasser Dhaen, Abdullah Matar, Juma Al Najem, Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Ibrahim Rasool and Ali Al Maloud and Ali Bu Majeed, who were the members of the Bahraini group of exchange students and Maamoun Abdulqader, Mahmoud Fadhlullah, Al Fateh Al Talib, Hussain Al Mirghani, Abbas Ali and Nasser, Abdullah Al Mansouri from the Sudanese and Saudi community working in the UAE.[1][8]

First titles and Entry to the Football League (1974–1997)Edit

On 2 February 1974, the club won its first title, the Abu Dhabi League. On 13 November 1974, Sheikh Khalifa was named honorary president of Al Ain, in recognition of his continuing support for the club.[7] On 21 May 1975, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected Chairman of Board of Directors. In 1975, Al Ain won its second Abu Dhabi League[9] In the same year on 21 March 1975, the club played its first UAE President Cup losing 4–5 on penalties in the Round of 16 against Al Shaab after drawing 1–1 in normal time. In 1975–76 season, the team participated for the first time in the UAE Football League, finishing runners-up behind Al Ahli. Al Ain won its first League title in the 1976–77 season, after drawing 1–1 with Al Sharjah in the last match. In the following season, they finished runners-up to Al Nasr; Mohieddine Habita was the top scorer with 20 goals. In the 1978–79 season, Al Ain secure third place with 27 points in the league and defeated by Sharjah in the President Cup final.

Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan became president of Al Ain on 19 January 1979. Al Ain won the League again in the 1980–81 season and lost the President Cup final to Al Shabab of Dubai. In 1983–84, the team won Joint League Cup and followed with its third League title, becoming the second with Al Ahli to have won the championship three times. The team had the strongest attack with 35 goals, and Ahmed Abdullah, with 20 goals was the joint-winner of the Arab League Golden Boot award for top scorer, alongside Al Wasl striker Fahad Khamees. This season was the first season in which foreign players were excluded from the UAE League, a restriction which was opposed by Al Ain. After winning the League title in 1983–84 season, Al Ain failed to win any trophies until 1989 when they won the Federation Cup. In the following year they reached the final of the President Cup, losing to Al Shabab.

The 1992–93 season began with several new signings: Saif Sultan (Ittihad Kalba), Salem Johar (Ajman), Saeed Juma (Emirates). Al Ain won their fourth League title with three games left to play, after a 5–0 win at Al Khaleej. In the following season, they finished second in the Football League and were runners-up the 1993 UAE Super Cup losing 2–1 against Al Shaab. They also reached the President Cup final but were beaten 1–0 by Al Shabab, failing for the fourth time to win the Cup. In 1994 and 1995, Al Ain lost two President Cup finals, finished second in the League, won the 1995 UAE Super Cup and lost out in the Asian Cup Winners' Cup second round to the Kuwaiti team Kazma. In the 1996–97 season, Al Ain were eliminated in the round of 16 of the President Cup by Hatta and finished fourth in the Football League.

The Golden Age (1997–2003)Edit

Before the start of the 1997–98 season, the honorary board was formed on 7 June 1997.[10] After this initiative, Al Ain won the league championship. In the following season, they won the President Cup and finished runner-up in the league and secured the third place
in their second appearance in Asian Club Championship, after the 1985. Ilie Balaci took charge in 1999. He led them to their sixth League championship, while in the Asian Cup Winners' Cup they were eliminated by Al Jaish on the away goals rule in the first round.

In 2003, Al Ain contested the AFC Champions League competition. In the Group stage they won all three matches, beating Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, Al Sadd of Qatar and Esteghlal of Iran. In the semi-final they were matched against the Chinese side Dalian Shide over two legs.
In the first game, Al Ain won 4–2 at home, with Boubacar Sanogo scoring twice. In the return match in China Al Ain went 4–2 down with six minutes to play but won 7–6 on aggregate after a late goal by Farhad Majidi the Iranian legend. The final saw Al Ain face BEC Tero Sasana of Thailand.
In the home leg, Al Ain prevailed 2–0 with goals from Salem Johar and Mohammad Omar. At the Rajamangala Stadium on 11 October, Al Ain were beaten 1–0 by Tero Sasana, but won 2–1 on aggregate to become the first Emirati club to win the Champions League.

New Era (2016–present)Edit

In December 2018, Al Ain which celebrated the 50th anniversary participating in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, representing the host nation as the reigning champions of the UAE Pro-League. Al Ain beat Team Wellington from New Zealand in the first round and Espérance de Tunis of 2018 CAF Champions League champions to enter semifinal. On 18 December 2018, Al Ain defeated Copa Libertadores champions River Plate by penalties hosted in their home stadium Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium to enter the final for the first time in team history and became the first Emirati club to reach the decisive match. The final, on 22 December, Al Ain lost 4–1 to UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Crest and coloursEdit

CrestsEdit

Al Jahili Fort is considered as a symbol of the club, because it reflects the history of the city and also was the formal home of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan since 1946 when he was a ruler's representative. It officially became a crest for the club in 1980.[11]
They import a single star in their emblem because of their 2003 AFC Champions League victory.

Al Jahili Fort symbol and crest of the club since 1980.

ColoursEdit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The club colours worn from 1968 to in 1974.[12]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Al Tadhamon colour became Al Ain's from 1974 to in 1977

The team began playing in green and white in 1968. After merging with Al Tadhamon in 1974, their red colour became Al Ain's from season 1974–75 until the start of season 1976–77. During the first team training camp in Morocco in 1977, a friendly tournament was held by Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca with the Nice, Sporting CP, and Anderlecht. Al Ain admired Anderlecht's purple colors, and an idea came to change Al Ain's colors to purple. The idea was presented to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who agreed to change the club colors officially to the purple with the beginning of the season 1977–78.[13]

Kit suppliers and shirt sponsorsEdit

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
chest back sleeve
1991–1992 Puma, Adidas None
1992–1993 Lotto
1993–1994
1994–1995
1995–1996 Lotto, Uhlsport
1996–1997 Adidas
1997–1998 Jako, Kelme, Lotto, ABM, Adidas
1998–1999 Lotto Bin Hamoodah None None
1999–2000 CALANNI Abu Dhabi National Hotels
2000–2001 Jako Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba[14] Avis Xerox
2001–2002 Adidas Yas Perfumes[14] None
2002–2003 Nike Al Habtoor[15]
2003–2004 ADCB
2004–2005 Lotto Sasan Trading[16] ADCB
2005–2006 AlFahim[16]
2006–2009 Sorouh Tamouh Hydra None
2009 Adidas None
2009–2010 Erreà Sorouh First Gulf Bank[17] Tamouh None Hydra None
2010–2011 Macron, Erreà Abu Dhabi National Hotels[18] Strata
2011 Kappa None None
2011–2013 Adidas[19] Sorouh First Gulf Bank Abu Dhabi National Hotels Strata
2013–2015 Nike[20] First Gulf Bank Abu Dhabi Airports[21][22]
2015–2016 BMW Abu Dhabi Motors[23]
2016–2018 First Abu Dhabi Bank None
2018–2021 None
2021– Expo 2020 Rain[24]

GroundsEdit

Al Ain first playground was set up on the main street near the Clock Roundabout in Al Ain. Took the shape of a square sandy plot of land.[25] In 1971, Al Ain moved to new stadium in Al Sarouj district at a cost of £40,290. On 18 June 1978, the new stadium named after honorary president Khalifa Bin Zayed known as Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium. The stadium underwent a renovation in 2002 and increased its capacity to 12,000 people and as of the 2006–07 season all the Al Ain matches are played in this stadium. The stadium went through another significant upgrade and renovation, to prepare for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, hosted in the UAE. As of 14 January 2014, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium been Al Ain home ground.[9]

Panorama view of Al Ain current ground, Hazza Bin Zayed.

HonoursEdit

34 official Championships.[26]

Notes
  • ^ Two Abu Dhabi Championship still not official by UAEFA
Type Competition Seasons
Titles Runners-up
Domestic National Pro League 1976–77, 1980–81, 1983–84, 1992–93, 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2017–18, 2021–22 14 1975–76, 1977–78, 1981–82, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1998–99, 2004–05, 2015–16 8S
President's Cup[27] 1998–99, 2000–01, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2013–14, 2017–18 7 1978–79, 1980–81, 1989–90, 1993–94, 1994–95, 2006–07, 2015–16 7
Super Cup 1995, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2015 5S 1993, 2002, 2013, 2014, 2018 5
League Cup 2008–09, 2021–22 2 2010–11 1
Federation Cup 1988–89, 2004–05, 2005–06 3 1986, 1994 2
Joint League[28] 1982–83 1S
State Abu Dhabi Championshipa[7] 1973–74, 1974–75 2S
Regional GCC Champions League 2001 1
Continental AFC Champions League 2003 1 2005, 2016 2
  •   record
  •   S shared record

PlayersEdit

[29][30][31]

No Position Player Nation
1 GK Mohammed Abo Sandah   United Arab Emirates
2 DF Saoud Al Mehri U21   United Arab Emirates
3 DF Salem Abdullah   United Arab Emirates
4 DF Mohammed Ali Shaker   United Arab Emirates
5 DF Danilo Arboleda   Colombia
6 MF Yahia Nader   United Arab Emirates
7 FW Caio Canedo   United Arab Emirates
8 FW Ali Eid   United Arab Emirates
9 FW Kodjo Laba   Togo
11 DF Bandar Al-Ahbabi (captain)   United Arab Emirates
12 GK Sultan Al-Mantheri   United Arab Emirates
13 MF Ahmed Barman   United Arab Emirates
14 MF Rayan Yaslam   United Arab Emirates
15 DF Erik   Brazil
17 GK Khalid Eisa (3rd captain)   United Arab Emirates
18 MF Khalid Al-Balochi   United Arab Emirates
21 FW Soufiane Rahimi   Morocco
22 MF Saeed Ahmed   United Arab Emirates
23 DF Mohamed Ahmed (vice-captain)   United Arab Emirates
24 MF Andrija Radovanović   Serbia
25 MF Ali Al-Balochi U21   United Arab Emirates
27 MF Sultan Al-Shamsi   United Arab Emirates
29 DF Omar Saeed   United Arab Emirates
30 MF Mohammed Khalfan   United Arab Emirates
31 GK Suhail Al-Shamsi   United Arab Emirates
33 DF Kouame Autonne   Ivory Coast
34 DF Rafael Pereira   Brazil
42 MF Jonathan Santos U21   Brazil
44 DF Saeed Juma   United Arab Emirates
45 MF Khalifa Obaid U21   United Arab Emirates
70 MF Mohammed Abbas U21   United Arab Emirates
72 FW Mohamed Awadalla U21   Sudan
74 DF Adham Khalid U21   Egypt
75 DF Zayed Al Harthi U21   United Arab Emirates
88 MF Naser Al-Shikali U21   United Arab Emirates
89 MF Ahmed Al-Qatesh U21   United Arab Emirates
90 FW Eisa Khalfan U21   United Arab Emirates
MF Andriy Yarmolenko   Ukraine

Unregistered playersEdit

No Position Player Nation
20 DF Yassine Meriah (Injured)   Tunisia
MF Bauyrzhan Islamkhan (Doping ban)   Kazakhstan

Out on loanEdit

No Position Player Nation
19 DF Mohanad Salem (on loan to Ittihad Kalba)   United Arab Emirates
77 GK Ibrahim Al-Kaebi (on loan to Al Urooba)   United Arab Emirates
94 MF Mohammed Jamal (on loan to Al Jazira)   United Arab Emirates
99 FW Jamal Maroof (on loan to Khor Fakkan)   United Arab Emirates
MF Falah Waleed (on loan to Khor Fakkan)   United Arab Emirates

PersonnelEdit

Current technical staffEdit

 
Serhiy Rebrov is the current head coach of Al Ain
Position Name
Head coach   Serhiy Rebrov
Assistant coach   Vicente Gómez
  Ahmed Abdullah
Assistant coach and analyst   Alberto Bosch
Fitness coach   Jesus
Goalkeeping coach   Radu Lefter
  Dan Zdrîncă
U-21 team head coach   Ghazi Fahad
First and U21 team supervisor   Abdullah Al Shamsi[32]

Last updated: 18 July 2021
Source: [1]

ManagementEdit

 
Mohammed bin Zayed is the current club president.

Board of directorsEdit

 
Hazza bin Zayed, current Vice President.
Office Name
President   Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Vice President   Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Chairman of Board of Directors   Matar Al Darmaki
Vice Chairman of Board of Directors   Khaled Al Dhaheri
Board of Directors Member   Matar Al Dhaheri
Board of Directors Member   Salem Al Jneibi
Board of Directors Member   Majid Al Owais

Last updated: 22 June 2019
Source: Al Ain Club

Managerial historyEdit

 
Bruno Metsu Al Ain's most successful coach with 4 trophies.

* Served as caretaker coach.

No. Nationality Head coach From Until Honours
1   Nasser Dhaen (No such name in FIFA)* 1968 1971[33][34][35]
2   Abdel Aziz Hammami 1971[34] 1973
3   Ahmed Alyan 1973 1976 2 Abu Dhabi Championship
4   Humaid Dhib 1976 1976
5   Ahmed Alyan 1976 1979 1 Championship
6   Abdelmajid Chetali 1979 1980
7   Ahmed Nagah* 1980 1982 1 Championship
8   Nelsinho Rosa 1982 1984 1 Championship,
1 Joint League
9   Miljan Miljanić 1984 1986
10   Jair Picerni 1986 1986
11   João Francisco 1986 1988
12   Zé Mario 1988 1990 1 Federation Cup
13   Mahieddine Khalef 1990 1992
14   Yusri Abdul Ghani 1992 1992
15   Amarildo 1992 1995 1 Championship
16   Shaker Abdel-Fattah 1995 1995 1 Supercup
17   Ángel Marcos 1995 1996
18   Lori Sandri 1996 1996
19   Cabralzinho 1997 1997
20   Shaker Abdel-Fattah 1997 1998 1 Championship
21   Nelo Vingada 1998 1999 1 President's Cup
22   Ilie Balaci 1999 2000 1 Championship
23   Oscar Fulloné June 2000 November 2000
24   Mrad Mahjoub November 2000 March 2001 1 Gulf Club Champions Cup
25   Anghel Iordănescu March 2001 Jan 2002 1 President's Cup
26   Ahmed Abdullah* Jan 2002 Jan 2002
27   Džemal Hadžiabdić Jan 2002 2002 1 Championship
28   Bruno Metsu Aug 2002 June 2004 2 Championships,
1 Champions League,
1 Supercup
29   Alain Perrin July 2004 21 Oct 2004
30   Mohammad El Mansi* 23 Oct 2004 Jan 2005 1 Federation Cup
No. Nationality Head coach From Until Honours
31   Milan Máčala Jan 2005 Jan 2006 1 President's Cup
32   Mohammad El Mansi* Jan 2006 June 2006 1 President's Cup,
1 Federation Cup
33   Anghel Iordănescu June 2006 Nov 2006
34   Tiny Ruys* Nov 2006 January 2007
35   Walter Zenga 7 January 2007 1 June 2007
36   Tite 9 July 2007 22 Dec 2007
37   Winfried Schäfer 25 Dec 2007 2 Dec 2009 1 League Cup,
1 President's Cup,
1 Supercup
38   Rachid Benmahmoud* 2 Dec 2009 6 Dec 2009
39   Toninho Cerezo 6 Dec 2009 14 April 2010
40   Abdulhameed Al Mistaki* 14 April 2010 20 Dec 2010
41   Ahmed Abdullah* 20 Dec 2010 30 Dec 2010
42   Alexandre Gallo 30 Dec 2010 6 June 2011
43   Cosmin Olăroiu 6 June 2011 6 July 2013 2 Championships,
1 Supercup
44   Jorge Fossati 29 July 2013 13 Sept 2013
45   Ahmed Abdullah* 13 Sept 2013 27 Sept 2013
46   Quique Sánchez Flores 27 Sept 2013 8 March 2014
47   Zlatko Dalić 8 March 2014 23 January 2017 1 Championship,
1 President's Cup,
1 Supercup
1 Emirati-Moroccan Super Cup
  Joško Španjić* 23 January 2017 1 February 2017
49   Zoran Mamić 1 February 2017 30 January 2019 1 Championship,
1 President's Cup
  Željko Sopić* 30 January 2019 18 February 2019
51   Juan Carlos Garrido 18 February 2019 26 May 2019
52   Ivan Leko 1 June 2019 21 December 2019
  Ghazi Fahad* 21 December 2019 5 January 2020
54   Pedro Emanuel 5 January 2020 11 May 2021
55   Serhiy Rebrov 6 June 2021 1 Championship,
1 League Cup

RecordEdit