AGL star handed four-year doping ban

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Banned: Ahmed Sulaiman (r).

Al Shabab’s plans for the new season have been rocked after first-choice full-back Ahmed Sulaiman was hit with a four-year ban by the National Anti-Doping Committee.

Sulaiman, 29, returned a positive sample following April 22’s 3-1 triumph against Emirates Club in the Arabian Gulf League. Pending the success of any potential appeal, this ruling means he will not play professional football again this decade.

“Tests proved the existence of doping substances in a sample of the Al Shabab player, these being dietary supplements,” 24.ae quoted a statement by the NADC.

The announcement will come as a blow to new coach Fred Rutten, who is set to make his competitive bow during Saturday’s Arabian Gulf Cup-clash against Dibba Al Fujairah.

Sulaiman was a key performer for the Dutchman’s predecessor Caio Junior, after his summer 2016 switch from Al Dafra. He made 28 appearances across all competitions, during which no goals were scored by him.

The Hawks failed to make any comment on Monday about the matter on their social media accounts or website.

The Dubai-outfit had looked in excellent shape to improve on last term’s disappointing fifth-placed finish in the top flight and failure to build on their 2014/15 GCC Club Cup-success.

Ex-PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord supremo Rutten has added glitz to the dugout, while they have recruited impressively in the foreign market.

Argentine attacking midfielder Tomas De Vincenti was brought in as a €3m (Dhs12.3m) replacement for stalwart Carlos Villanueva, while Ruud Boymans’ record of 19 goals in 24 games for FC Utrecht shows he should solve their problem striking position.

Shabab have retained Moldova forward Henrique Luvannor and Uzbekistan defensie midfielder Azizbek Haydarov. They have been quiet in the domestic market, only added Dubai CSC prospect Mohammed Ibrahim.

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Abdulla keen to prove worth after dream Al Jazira move

Denzil Pinto 29/08/2016
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Double act: Abdulla (l) and Ahmed.

The 30-year-old midfielder completed his move to the Pride of Abu Dhabi last month in an exchange deal with right-back Khalid Sabeal going the other direction to Al Wasl.

The Emirati joins Henk ten Cate’s squad looking to rediscover his scoring touch, having failed to find the back of the net in 16 Arabian Gulf League games last season.

“Al Jazira is one of the big clubs not just in Abu Dhabi but in the country,” he said. “Any player would love to join Al Jazira. They won the President’s Cup last season and have some great players in the squad.

“I will do my best and I want to be an important player for the club.”

Another new face for the President’s Cup winners this term is Humaid Ahmed.

The midfielder moves from a relegated Fujairah outfit, scoring once in 12 AGL games last season. And the former Al Nasr and Sharjah player is relishing the challenges ahead.

“This is a new test for me and I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I know Al Jazira have achieved some great things in the past and last season, won the President’s Cup. I want to go out there and improve and help them achieve more success.”

Team manager Husain Suhail added: “I’m delighted that we have Humaid and Salem at Al Jazira. They are both adding value to the team and we are happy to have them with us.”

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New Al Jazira signing Boussoufa wants silverware

Denzil Pinto 29/08/2016
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New colours: Al Jazira team manager Husain Suhail (l) introduces Mbark Boussoufa.

The Morocco playmaker was officially unveiled on Monday at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium following his free transfer in July after his contract with Lokomotiv Moscow expired.

The 32-year-old was part of the President’s Cup winners squad that travelled to Netherlands and Germany for a pre-season camp and has already been impressed with former Chelsea and Barcelona assistant Ten Cate.

“I didn’t know Ten Cate too well before I came over but I had a very good conversation and he told me what he expects of me,” said Boussoufa, who scored in Jazira’s 4-3 friendly win over Bahrain’s East Riffa earlier this month.

“I’m happy with him as the coach. He’s well known for working with big players in Europe and has a very good reputation and knows football very well. I’m glad I’m working with someone who has won a lot so and for me that’s exciting. I’m here to play in the position that he wants me to play in and I will try to fulfill my role in a good way.”

The former Anderlecht and Anzhi Makhachkala player, who has inked a two-year deal, revealed the Pride of Abu Dhabi had been chasing his signature for almost a year and insists it wasn’t a hard choice to move to the UAE after speaking to ex-Jazira midfielders Jucilei and compatriot Abdelaziz Barrada.

“I’ve been following the football in the UAE for some time because they contacted me earlier and wanted me to come and play,” he said. “I played with Jucilei (at Anzhi) and Barrada in the national team and they told me about the great things of the club. I also now have the knowledge of what type of football they play here.”

The summer arrival is one of four new signings in Ten Cate’s squad as they look to mount a serious title assault in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) following a disappointing seventh-place finish last term.

They open their domestic season against champions Al Wahda in the Arabian Gulf Cup on Saturday, before hosting Al Wasl in the first AGL game of the season on September 17.

The Netherlands-born midfielder believes his team possess enough talent to cause opponents problems but feels playing as an attacker would get the best out of him.

He said: “I’m looking forward to working with all the players.

“Ali Mabkhout is still with the national team (for the World Cup qualifiers) but I’ve begun to know the other players really well.

“I’m here to give my best and do the best for our club and help the club. My best position is No10 as an attacking midfielder but can play on either side.

“It’s a very ambitious club and after what happened in the last year, the club want to do better and I’m here to help to them,” he said.

“It’s a good feeling to be here and having played in different countries, this is a very good adventure for me.”

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