Al Ahli
© AFP

The past
Al Ahli were founded in 1970 using the name of Egypt's most famous club, which literally translates as ‘the national.' The Dubai-based outfit had built up a strong presence on the domestic scene and just five years after their establishment, they won their first league title before doubling that achievement with another title the following year. Their third championship came in the 1979/1980 season while their first title in the new millennium was earned in the 2005/2006 season.

The present
Al Ahli were forced to battle hard to claim their much-anticipated fifth domestic crown, edging Al Jazira in a battle that went down to the last day of the season. They went into their last fixture a point clear of Al Jazira needing to beat defending champions Al Shabab in order to guarantee the title. Then coached by Czech tactician Ivan Hasek, Al Ahli beat Al Shabab 3-1 maintaining their one point advantage to claim domestic bragging rights and qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009.

The future
One of the side's leading players is their key striker Faisal Khalil who believes that the tournament will be a chance for he and his team-mates to show the rest of the world the true quality of football in the UAE. "The FIFA Club World Cup is a big tournament and we have big responsibility because we are representing UAE," he said. "The tournament will be the chance for us to prove that we have good football in UAE and it is the chance of a lifetime for us."

Facts and figures
Former stars
Ahmed Issa, Abdulrazzaq Ibrahim, Ali Karimi, Mohamed Kader, Javad Kazemian

Key players
Hosny Abd Rabo (midfielder), Clederson Cesar (midfielder), Bare (forward), Faisal Khalil (forward), Ahmad Khalil (forward), Ismail Al Hammadi (forward)

Qualifying statistics
Al Ahli won the UAE league title after claiming 55 points from 17 wins and four draws while they lost only once, scoring 54 goals and conceding 29.

The numbers game
2 - The number of times Al Ahli has participated in the AFC Champions League, with the club being eliminated in the group stage on both occasions.