1989 was a ground-breaking year for the UAE’s national football team: it was the first and only time they qualified for the Fifa World Cup.
It was a moment so cathartic it moved Emirati commentator Adnan Hamad to tears. The team were underdogs, but they had emerged victorious during the Asian Football Confederation’s qualifying matches in Singapore and earned a spot at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
“Anwar Roma,” said the commentator. “I see the lights of Rome.”
Magnificent and surreal as it was, Saeed Al Owairan’s goal against Belgium did a little disservice to Saudi Arabia at the 1994 World Cup. Extravagantly gifted and best suited just behind a striker, Al Owairan was always a bit of a showboater.
He once lobbed a keeper from the halfway line. He also never needed an invitation to shoot from distance, and his left foot was usually the first to the scene of any free kick, most often to nudge midfielder Khalid Al Muwallid out of the way.