Major Vucinic boost for Jazira

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Vucinic was speaking at an Adidas event in Dubai.

The former Roma and Juventus hitman has been out of action since last November after tearing his cruciate ligaments and Pride of Abu Dhabi coach Henk ten Cate stated last week that he would not return to the pitch for several months.

“Mirko’s not fit. He’s not going to be fit soon,” said the Dutchman after Jazira’s recent pre-season friendly win over East Riffa.

But Vucinic told Sport360 Friday that he is ahead of schedule and will soon be available for selection, with the fixture in the first Super Cup match to be staged outside of the UAE firmly at the forefront of his mind.

“My injury has got better and I hope I will be ready in a couple of weeks for the Super Cup. My progress has been going well and I’m pleased with where I am after the serious injury.

“The season-opening match gives us the chance to win a trophy that everybody at the club wants us to win and I believe we can do it.”

News of Vucinic’s earlier than expected comeback serves as a major boost for the Abu Dhabi club.

The 32-year-old Montenegrin plundered 25 goals in 23 AGL games during his debut 2014/15 campaign and became an instant fan favourite before injury restricted him to five goals in nine appearances last term.

“Last season was very difficult for me due to my knee injury and missing lots of football but I was happy to see the team lift the President’s Cup trophy,” the three-time Serie A title winner said.

“My first season in Al Jazira was very, very good. I scored lots of goals but unfortunately the team didn’t win anything collectively. Now, I hope to score more goals again and contribute to winning a trophy with this team,” Vucinic said while supporting adidas’ #FirstNeverFollows Grand Finale event at Dubai Sports World.

Vucinic also confirmed that he will fill one spot in the club’s four-man foreign player quota for this coming campaign, joining Mbark Boussoufa and Jefferson Farfan.

But boss Ten Cate still has a decision to make over his fourth selection.

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Jovanovic demands full focus for second leg

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Way to go: New boy Wanderley made a big impression with two goals.

Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic insists his players still “have to suffer” if they are to reach the AFC Champions League’s last-four for the first time despite securing an incredible 3-0 away win at El Jaish.

A brace from summer-buy Wanderley on debut and an excellent skimming drive from Jonathan Pitroipa in Doha ensured the knockout stage debutants are redhot favourites to proceed when the teams reconvene on September 14.

Despite this incredible start to the new season, boss Jovanovic preached that his charges must keep pushing at Al Maktoum Stadium regardless of their three-goal advantage.

He said: “The problem with playing in the quarter-final is the timing, you have to face many elements as you do not know everything about your team.

“It is very difficult for both teams to understand where they are with their performance as there are no official games before this. On the other hand, the target of reaching the semi-final is huge. All of us will have to suffer to be there.”

In front of a sparsely-attended Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium which contained far fewer fans than the official figure of 5,120, the Blue Wave excelled from the off.

Wanderley first tapped into an open goal just before half-time, with Pitroipa slotting into the bottom corner prior to the hour mark. The former-mentioned summer addition from Sharjah then stroked home from close range to send the travelling ‘Nasrawy’ and technical staff into dreamland on 85 minutes.

“Of course it was a very good result for us after a very good game,” added Jovanovic, who previously led Cypriot minnows APOEL into the same stage of the UEFA Champions League. “El Jaish also during the game had some chances but they couldn’t score a goal. But the difference in the game was the time in which we scored the goals.

“It was a difficult game for both teams in very difficult weather conditions. What was most difficult was keeping a good pace throughout the whole game.

“Maybe we have a small advantage from the game. But in Dubai, it will be very decisive for who can go through into the semi-finals. We will face the second game in our home in the same way and we hope during this 15 days we will prepare for an even-better performance.”

Opposite number Sabri Lamouchi was understandably crestfallen during his post-match press conference. This was a huge blow after dominating Group B and blitzing neighbours Lekhiwya in the round of 16.

“I do not know what happened,” the ex-France midfielder said. “We are really disappointed.

“Of course, it is a very-bad result at home. We started not so good, but after half an hour we came back.

“We missed a lot in both halves. Not just the positioning, but a lot of mistakes.

“Nasr scored all their opportunities. We had maybe more opportunities, but this is football.

“It was a very-bad night, game and result. Nothing is impossible in football, but honestly it will not be easy. “We must play with a different attitude and miss less.”

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Barbosa seals the deal with Wasl

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Welcome to the club: Barbosa

Helder Barbosa, 29, arrived in Dubai late on Tuesday to undergo medical examinations and complete the switch.

His arrival bolsters new coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s squad with a player who has scored an impressive 15 goals during 68 appearances since being snapped up on a free transfer in July 2014 after leaving Braga.

“Al Wasl announces they have signed a contract with Portuguese player Helder Barbosa for two seasons,” the Cheetahs tweeted yesterday.

“Contact talks with the player began two weeks ago and were led by board member Walid Al Shaibani. They ended when the player passed a medical examination.”

The ex-Porto starlet will form part of a fluid attacking quartet alongside retained Brazilians Fabio De Lima and Caio Canedo, plus fellow fresh face Ronaldo Mendes.

His new team have also made 10 Emirati additions this summer, including Al Ahli centre midfielder Humaid Abbas.

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