Al Kamali dreaming of Europe
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The FIFA U-20 World Cup is one of the most important tournaments in the international football calendar. Aside from the chance to represent your country and the possibility of silverware, many players see the competition as an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window for Europe's biggest clubs. Indeed, numerous stars have burst onto the global scene at the U-20 showpiece over the years, including Brazil's Ronaldinho and Argentina's Lionel Messi.

Egypt 2009 is no different and one player keen for a glittering career on the Old Continent is Hamdan Al Kamali. "It's my dream to play in Europe. If we perform well here, I'm sure there will be contract offers from abroad," said the United Arab Emirates captain in an exclusive interview with "None of the UAE players play abroad, so this World Cup is a great opportunity for us to show what we can do. My favourite teams are Barcelona and Inter Milan."

The powerful defender played every minute of his side's three group matches and was a major factor in the UAE's safe passage into the Round of 16, although he admits the opening 2-2 draw with South Africa left a lot to be desired. "We managed to come back from two-nil down and thankfully that gave us the confidence we needed going into the next match."

"We went on to beat Honduras and in the last match against Hungary the coach made several changes in order to give some of the players a rest, so I think you have to look at that one in a different light."

We have a good team and we're confident that we can go far in this competition.
Hamdan Al Kamali, UAE defender.

Next up is Venezuela in the Round of 16 on Wednesday 6 October: "It's going to be a difficult match. They're a good team with some very athletic players. We'll be playing in a different stadium but hopefully the fans will make the trip to Suez and continue their fantastic support."

And the 1-0 group-stage victory over Honduras could well prove to be have been a useful rehearsal, given the Central Americans' similar style to South Americans Venezuela. "We came up against teams with several different styles in the group stage and hopefully we can use that experience to our advantage against Venezuela."

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Al-Wahda centre-back refused to get ahead of himself, despite the potential of a tasty quarter-final clash with host nation Egypt: "We'd rather play Egypt in the final, but we need to focus on Venezuela for now. You never know what might happen. Spain lost to Italy and that was a big surprise. I think Brazil and Uruguay are the favourites and now they're up against one another. We want to make the semi-final at least."

Al Kamali remained coy when pressed on whether he thought his team could reach the final: "We have a good team and we're confident that we can go far in this competition. But I'm just happy to be playing in my first World Cup. Once it's over, my goal is to get into the senior squad and qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil."

The man known as ‘Defensive Rock' in his homeland thanks to his robust style of play has even regularly been likened to Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer. Der Kaiser was a FIFA World Cup winner as both player and coach and, if the Emirati youngster can indeed captain his team to the final of Egypt 2009, living up to such lofty comparisons as well as a dream move to Europe would be one step closer.