World Footy: Desert derby is a pointer to Middle East Grand Final

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi now virtually owns Dubai Inc. The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is now named after the ruler of Abu Dhabi. However, the one piece of reality that Abu Dhabi does not own is the Middle East AFL crown.

Competition leaders Dubai Heat are still unbeaten after two seasons of competition and are raging hot favourites to take out their second successive Middle East AFL premiership.

The Heat is at home to the Abu Dhabi Falcons in the final round of roster matches for the season on Friday at The Sevens rugby ground in Dubai.  The top of the table clash between the two unbeaten teams in the competition will be followed by the Dubai Dragons (third) versus Dubai Dingoes (fifth). Three games of Auskick will precede the senior fixtures.

A major out for this game for the Heat is star centre half-forward James Hope (ex-Old Ivanhoe). Also missing through injury are key defender Chris Smith, reliable back pocket Stuart Dodds and utility Luke Batterly.

It is understood that the Heat’s full forward Andrew Schauble , a former Sydney Swans best and fairest player, has rescheduled his flight for a business trip to Iran to be available for the challenge from the Falcons.

The Dubai team will look to Ryan Konnigan to fill the gap in the key defensive post. His duel with league leading goalkicker Marc Pettersen (ex North Melbourne) may well determine the result of the match.

Pettersen snared 9 goals in his last outing against the Dragons and is an opportunist in front of goal.

Supporting Konnigan in defence will be Aaron Grout with former Collingwood listed player Cameron Hotton playing a sweeping role across half-back.

The Falcons almost have a full list to choose from. However, a notable absentee is goalsneak Matthew Wood, who is unavailable.

New recruits Tom Mitchell (ex Sandringham), ruckman Mark Deverill (Barwon Heads) and key forward Dan Brooks (Old Scotch) have bolstered the Falcons’ ranks and transformed the Abu Dhabi outfit into a genuine flag contender.

Coming into the team for his first senior game is fifteen year old schoolboy Ashley Dusting from the oasis city of Al Ain. Dusting has impressed in practice matches at training and will start from the bench.

As it turns out these two teams will play each other again in the grand final on March 19 at the same venue. The finals system is based on the championship format with 1st playing 2nd for the premiership, and 3rd v 4th for third. The winner of this clash will become favourites to take out the flag.


  1. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    The class and the experience of the Dubai Heat proved too good for a gallant Abu Dhabi Falcons outfit in the clash of the undefeated teams for the minor premiership in the Middle East AFL.
    Down by 14 points at 3/4 time and kicking into a very stiff breeze the Heat overcome a 20 point deficit early in the last quarter to storm to victory. The two teams will meet again the grand final on 19 March in Dubai.
    Meanwhile the Bahrain Blues have made the finals in their first season the competition and will meet the Dubai Dragons in the play-off for third on the same day.

  2. johnharms says

    Dusting is well-named although Sheik does a skirmish for the pigskin in sand give off dust or something else?

  3. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Young Dusting scored a goal with his first kick in senior football – he goes to school in Al Ain, an oasis city on the UAE/Oman border – his father brings him the 160 km down to training.
    Temperature was down to high 20s but there were more hardball gets than a brass monkey in Siberia!

  4. Have no fear the Falcons will LIFT

  5. Sandy Crack says

    The GF needs more game time from the young fella’s, Ash (eat my dust) Dusting & Alex (woof woof) Barker. Let them turn it on and the cup will be going to the falcons.

  6. Attn: Mr Harms

    We live in a Muslim country and as such are not permitted to “skirmish over a pigskin” without risking the potential of a greater skirmish created by pork being in plain sight…

    Valiant effort by the Falcons. Brought down by running out of legs and footy smarts. Big chance in the GF if attitude is right on the day. Great games by Brett Bowman (South African, kept Schauble quiet), Dan Brooke (mark of the year contender) and Ben Williams consistently winning the hard ball were standouts in a genuinely even team performance.

    With a few outs it will be tough, but can be done. Go Falcons!

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