Al Ain FC

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Full nameAl-Ain Football Club
نادي العين لكرة القدم
Nickname(s)Al Zaeem (The Boss)
FoundedAugust 1968; 50 years ago (1968-08)
GroundHazza Bin Zayed Stadium
OwnerMohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
ManagerIvan Leko
LeagueUAE Pro-League
2018–19UAE Pro-League, 4th
WebsiteClub website

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.

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]

Al Ain is by far the most successful club in the UAE.[2] The team quickly gained popularity and recognition throughout the country, being the team with the most tournament titles (32 in total).[3] Al Ain has won a record 13 UAE Pro-League titles, 6 President's Cups, 3 Federation Cups, 1 Arabian Gulf Cup, a record 5 Super Cups, two Abu Dhabi Championship Cups, one Joint League Cup, Emirati-Moroccan Super Cup, 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]


Foundation and early years[edit]

In 1971, 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 1971, the club was officially established, taking its name from that of the city. 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 7–1 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, Abdullah Al Mansouri, 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 Abdul Qader, Mahmoud Fadhlullah, Al Fateh Al Talib, Hussain Al Mirghani and Abbas Ali from the Sudanese community working in the UAE.[1]

First titles and Entry to the Football League (1974–1997)[edit]

In 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[8] 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 Al 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 corer, 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. The team were eliminated in the qualifying stages of the 1986 Asian Club Championship. After winning the League title in 1983–84 season, Al Ain failed to win any trophies till 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), Majed Al Owais (Al Thaid), 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 of Sharjah. 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 of Dubai 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.[9] After this important quantum leap, 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 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 year 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 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, was lost 4–1 to UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.


Hazza Bin Zayed
Field size105 m × 68 m (344 ft × 223 ft)
Opened14 January 2014 (2014-01-14)
ArchitectPattern Design Limited (2014)

Al Ain first playground was set up on the main street near the Clock Roundabout. Took the shape of a square sandy plot of land.[10]

Al Ain has owns three home grounds, Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium, Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium, and Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium which opened on 14 January 2014.

Crest and colours[edit]

The Al Jahili Castle 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]

The team began playing in green and white in 1968. After merging with Al Tadhamun in 1974, their red color became Al Ain's from season 1974–75 till 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. They import a single star in their emblem because of their 10 championships of the UAE league.[12]

Current squad[edit]

First team squad[edit]

As of UAE Pro-League:

No Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Mohammed Abo Sandah  United Arab Emirates
2 Defender Ali Al-Hidhani U21  United Arab Emirates
5 Defender Ismail Ahmed (Captain)  United Arab Emirates
6 Midfielder Amer Abdulrahman  United Arab Emirates
7 Forward Caio Canedo  Brazil
8 Midfielder Abderrahmane Meziane  Algeria
9 Forward Kodjo Laba  Togo
11 Midfielder Bandar Al-Ahbabi  United Arab Emirates
12 Goalkeeper Hamad Al-Mansouri  United Arab Emirates
13 Midfielder Ahmed Barman  United Arab Emirates
14 Defender Mohammed Fayez (Vice-captain)  United Arab Emirates
15 Defender Khaled Abdulrahman  United Arab Emirates
16 Midfielder Mohamed Abdulrahman  United Arab Emirates
17 Goalkeeper Khalid Eisa  United Arab Emirates
18 Midfielder Ibrahim Diaky  United Arab Emirates
19 Defender Mohanad Salem  United Arab Emirates
20 Forward Saad Khamis  United Arab Emirates
23 Defender Mohamed Ahmed  United Arab Emirates
28 Midfielder Sulaiman Nasser  United Arab Emirates
30 Midfielder Mohammed Khalvan U21  United Arab Emirates
33 Defender Tsukasa Shiotani  Japan
36 Goalkeeper Dawoud Sulaiman  United Arab Emirates
43 Midfielder Rayan Yaslam  United Arab Emirates
44 Defender Saeed Jumaa  United Arab Emirates
50 Defender Ahmed Jamal U21  Egypt
51 Midfielder Khaled Al-Bloushi U21  United Arab Emirates
56 Defender Salem Al-Jabri U21  United Arab Emirates
58 Midfielder Falah Waleed U21  United Arab Emirates
80 Goalkeeper Mohammed Fadhel  United Arab Emirates
88 Midfielder Yahya Nader  Egypt
99 Forward Jamal Ibrahim  United Arab Emirates
Midfielder Hazem Muhanaeh U21  Syria
Midfielder Mohammed Helal  United Arab Emirates
Midfielder Mohammed Jamal  United Arab Emirates

Other players under contract[edit]

No Position Player Nation
3 Defender Firas Al-Khosaibi  United Arab Emirates
24 Defender Abdullah Ghamran  United Arab Emirates
Midfielder Saqer Mohammed  United Arab Emirates
Forward Hamzah Muhanaeh  Syria

Out on loan[edit]

No Position Player Nation
Defender Saeed Musabbeh (on loan to Ittihad Kalba)  United Arab Emirates
Forward Ali Eid (on loan to Dinamo Zagreb)  United Arab Emirates


Current technical staff[edit]

Position Name
Head coach Croatia Ivan Leko
Assistant coach Croatia Damir Krznar
2nd Assistant coach Croatia Alen Peternac
Fitness coach Croatia Ivan Štefanić
Fitness coach Croatia Milan Šnjarić
Goalkeeping coach Bosnia and Herzegovina Miralem Ibrahimović
First team tehnical analyst Croatia Vedran Attias
Club doctor Croatia Jurica Rakić
Physiotherapist Croatia Ivica Oršolić
Croatia Marin Polonijo
Croatia Božo Šinković
U-21 team head coach Croatia Željko Sopić
Team Manager United Arab Emirates Matar Obaid Al Sahbani
Team Supervisor United Arab Emirates Mohammed Obeid Hammad
Team Administrator United Arab Emirates Essam Abdulla
Director of football United Arab Emirates Sultan Rashed

Last updated: August 2016
Source: Al Ain Club

Management and hierarchy[edit]

President United Arab Emirates Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Vice President United Arab Emirates Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Chairman of Board of Directors United Arab Emirates Ghanem Mubarak Al Hajeri
Vice Chairman of Board of Directors United Arab Emirates Ahmed Humaid Al Mazroui
Board of Directors Member United Arab Emirates Mohammed Obeid Hammad
Board of Directors Member United Arab Emirates Sultan Rashed Al Kalbani
Board of Directors Member United Arab Emirates Ali Msarri Al Dhaheri

Last updated: August 2016
Source: Al Ain Club


34 official Championships

Domestic competitions[edit]

Winners (13) (record): 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
Runners-up (8):[15] 1975–76, 1977–78, 1981–82, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1998–99, 2004–05, 2015–16
Winners (7): 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008–09, 2013–14, 2017–18
Runners-up (7): 1978–79, 1980–81, 1989–90, 1993–94, 1994–95, 2006-07, 2015–16
Winners (1): 2008–09
Runners-up (1): 2010–11
Winners (5) (record): 1995, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2015
Runners-up (3):1993, 2002, 2013
Winners (2): 1974, 1975
Winners (1): 1983
Winners (3): 1989, 2005, 2006

Regional competitions[edit]

Winners (1) : 2001

Continental competitions[edit]

Winners (1) : 2003
Runners-up (2) : 2005, 2016
Runners-up (1) : 2018

Friendly competitions[edit]

  • Emirati-Moroccan Friendship Super Cup
Winners (1): 2015

Managerial history[edit]

* Served as caretaker coach.

Asian Record[edit]


  • Q : Qualified, GS : Group Stage, R16 : Round of 16, QF : Quarterfinals, SF : Semifinals, RU : Runners-Up, W : Winners
Qualified 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

AFC Club Rankings[edit]

As of 2019

This is the current AFC coefficient, the rankings are calculated by AFC.[17]

AFC Club Points
1 Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal 128.48
2 United Arab Emirates Al Ain 119.855
3 China Guangzhou Evergrande 102.409
4 South Korea FC Seoul 101
5 South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 89
6 Qatar Al-Duhail 87.368
7 China Shanghai SIPG 75.409
8 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds 74.527
9 Saudi Arabia Al-Ahli 72.48
10 United Arab Emirates Shabab Al Ahli 68.855

Top scorers[edit]

Note: this includes goals scored in all competitions.[18]

No. Nationality Player Goals
1 United Arab Emirates Ahmed Abdullah 180
2 Ghana Asamoah Gyan 128
3 Tunisia Molim Deen Habeetah 71
4 United Arab Emirates Majed Al Oweis 70
5 United Arab Emirates Matar Al Sahbani 60
6 United Arab Emirates Salem Johar 60
7 United Arab Emirates Seif Sultan 55
8 United Arab Emirates Abdul Hameed Mohamed 45


  1. ^ a b "club Foundation3". Archived from the original on 1 August 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Al Ain look to the future". Fifa.
  3. ^ "40 years of UAE Football". EmaratAlYoum.
  4. ^ "Al Ain "The Boss" with 58 titles". EmaratAlYoum.
  5. ^ a b "The Beginning". Archived from the original on 1 August 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "club Foundation4". Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "club Foundation5". Archived from the original on 1 August 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  8. ^ "club Foundation – 2". Archived from the original on 27 March 2005. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  9. ^ "The honorary board". (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  10. ^ "first playground". Archived from the original on 1 August 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Club Emblem" (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 11 May 2004. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  12. ^ "The Purple Story". (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Club Milestones". Al Ain FC. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016.
  14. ^ "List of Cup Winners". RSSSF.
  15. ^ "List of Champions". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014.
  16. ^ "Joint League" (in Arabic).
  17. ^ "AFC Club Ranking ( 1st December 2017 ) - Global Football Ranks". Global Football Ranks. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Top Scorers". Archived from the original on 20 January 2004. Retrieved 17 July 2014.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Suwon Samsung Bluewings
South Korea
Champions of Asia
Succeeded by
Saudi Arabia