Dubai: Faisal Al Kamali, the agent and brother of Al Wahda defender Hamed, has tipped his client to make history on Tuesday as the first Emirati to play in the Uefa Champions League.
Hamed, 22, who is also the younger brother of UAE and Al Wahda defender Hamdan, signed a one-year loan deal with Maltese league and cup champions Valletta on Friday.
Valletta play Azerbaijani champions Qarabag over two legs in the Champions League second qualifying round at home in Ta' Qali, Malta, on Tuesday, with the return leg in Baku a week later.
"I don't expect him to start, but he might come on as a substitute toward the end," Faisal told Gulf News. "If this happens, he will become the first Emirati to play in the Uefa Champions League and that would be a massive achievement.
"After the new rule to reduce UAE clubs to 22 players, I thought about taking my brother to Europe, but we wanted to do it in a proper way, where he would gain experience and improve.
"The main aim is not financial, money will come later. My brother's main aim is to get into the UAE national squad within two or three years, but this will be difficult if he stays in the UAE because my other brother Hamdan — also a defender — already plays in that role for both Al Wahda and the UAE."
Faisal was also influential in taking Hamdan to French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais on a six-month loan spell in 2012, but the player returned to Al Wahda having failed to make a first team appearance.
UAE midfielder Omar Abdul Rahman also had a two-week trial with English Premier League side Manchester City in 2012, but the move wasn't made permanent. UAE strikers Esmail Mattar and Ahmad Khalil have also previously been linked with European clubs but did not end up making the move abroad.
If Hamed makes a first team appearance for Valletta — even outside of the Champions League — he will become the first Emirati to play in Europe, but Faisal is backing more Emiratis to make the leap.
"UAE players are paid well and some UAE clubs don't want good players to leave. But look at Ghana in the World Cup, they drew with Germany. Why? Because 90 per cent of the team plays abroad. For the future of the UAE national team, this is what needs to be done."