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.
|Full name||Al Ain Football Club|
نادي العين لكرة القدم
|Nickname(s)||Al Zaeem (The Boss)|
|Founded||August 1968 |
as Al Ain Sports Club
|Ground||Hazza Bin Zayed|
|Owner||Mohamed Bin Zayed|
|League||UAE Pro League|
|2021–22||UAE Pro League, 1st (Champions)|
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. The team quickly gained popularity and recognition throughout the country, being the team with the most trophies (35 in total).
Al Ain is by far the most successful club in the UAE. 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.
|Squad of season 1975-76|
|Jasim Al Dhaheri|
|Ahmed Al Qatari|
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.
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. 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. 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. In 1971, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan provided the club with new headquarters with modern specifications: the Khalifa Stadium in Al Sarooj district. 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.
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.
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. 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 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. 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
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.
They import a single star in their emblem because of their 2003 AFC Champions League victory.
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.
Kit suppliers and shirt sponsorsEdit
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|1997–1998||Jako, Kelme, Lotto, ABM, Adidas|
|1999–2000||CALANNI||Abu Dhabi National Hotels|
|2000–2001||Jako||Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba||Avis||Xerox|
|2009–2010||Erreà||Sorouh||First Gulf Bank||Tamouh||None||Hydra||None|
|2010–2011||Macron, Erreà||Abu Dhabi National Hotels||Strata|
|2011–2013||Adidas||Sorouh||First Gulf Bank||Abu Dhabi National Hotels||Strata|
|2013–2015||Nike||First Gulf Bank||Abu Dhabi Airports|
|2015–2016||BMW Abu Dhabi Motors|
|2016–2018||First Abu Dhabi Bank||None|
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. 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.
34 official Championships.
|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||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|
|State||Abu Dhabi Championshipa||1973–74, 1974–75||2S|
|Regional||GCC Champions League||2001||1|
|Continental||AFC Champions League||2003||1||2005, 2016||2|
- S shared record
|20||DF||Yassine Meriah (Injured)||Tunisia|
|—||MF||Bauyrzhan Islamkhan (Doping ban)||Kazakhstan|
Out on loanEdit
|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|
Current technical staffEdit
|Head coach||Serhiy Rebrov|
|Assistant coach|| Vicente Gómez|
|Assistant coach and analyst||Alberto Bosch|
|Goalkeeping coach|| Radu Lefter |
|U-21 team head coach||Ghazi Fahad|
|First and U21 team supervisor||Abdullah Al Shamsi|
Last updated: 18 July 2021
Board of directorsEdit
|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
* Served as caretaker coach.
|1||Nasser Dhaen (No such name in FIFA)*||1968||1971|
|2||Abdel Aziz Hammami||1971||1973|
|3||Ahmed Alyan||1973||1976||2 Abu Dhabi Championship|
|5||Ahmed Alyan||1976||1979||1 Championship|
|7||Ahmed Nagah*||1980||1982||1 Championship|
|8||Nelsinho Rosa||1982||1984||1 Championship, |
1 Joint League
|12||Zé Mario||1988||1990||1 Federation Cup|
|14||Yusri Abdul Ghani||1992||1992|
|16||Shaker Abdel-Fattah||1995||1995||1 Supercup|
|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,
|29||Alain Perrin||July 2004||21 Oct 2004|
|30||Mohammad El Mansi*||23 Oct 2004||Jan 2005||1 Federation Cup|
|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,
|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, |
|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 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
Updated 22 May 2022.
Note: this includes goals scored in all competitions.
Top scorers in Asian competitionsEdit