Team-by-team guide, star players and predictions for AGL

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With the new AGL season upon us we have the lowdown on each and every team aiming to compete for the title.

From the key ins and outs over the course of the summer to our predictions for this year’s competition, we have you covered.

Who do you think will be crowned AGL champions?

Have your say by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

AL AHLI

NICKNAME: Red Knights

COACH: Cosmin Olaroiu

STAR PLAYER: Everton Ribeiro

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Walid Amber

2015/16 FINISH: Champions

KEY INS: Mohammed Jaber (Bani Yas), Asamoah Gyan (Shanghai SIPG – loan)

KEY OUTS: Humaid Abbas (free agent – Al Wasl), Ahmed Dida (Bani Yas), Moussa Sow (Fenerbahce – loan)

PREDICTION: If the chemistry is right between experienced forwards Lima and Gyan, the AGL’s strongest squad should be unstoppable. Remain the team to beat under unceasing Olaroiu.

AL AIN

NICKNAME: The Boss

COACH: Zlatko Dalic

STAR PLAYER: Omar Abdulrahman

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Saeed Al Menhali

2015/16 FINISH: Runners-up

KEY INS: Amer Abdulrahman (Bani Yas), Caio (Kashima Antlers)

KEY OUTS: Mohammed Fawzi (Al Jazira), Helal Saeed (released), Fellipe Bastos (Bani Yas)

PREDICTION: So many question marks remain about the Boss, for whom their foreign contingent are suspect. Will need to click immediately to stand any chance of keeping pace with rivals Ahli.

BANI YAS

Nickname: Sky Blues

COACH: Pablo Repetto

STAR PLAYER: Joaquin Larrivey

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Suhail Al Noubi

2015/16 FINISH: Ninth

KEY INS: Amer Omar (Al Wahda), Faisel Ahmed (Dibba Al Fujairah), Ahmed Dida (Al Ahli), Ali Al Ameri (Al Nasr)

KEY OUTS: Mohammed Jaber (Al Ahli), Amer Abdulrahman (Al Ain), Fawaz Awana (Al Nasr)

PREDICTION: Highly-rated boss Repetto will need to repeat the magic from his time in South America to see underperforming club escape mid-table.

AL DHAFRA

NICKNAME: Western Knights

COACH: Mohamed Kwid

STAR PLAYER: Omar Khrbin

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Abdulla Al Naqbi

2015/16 FINISH: Eighth

KEY INS: Mohammed Al Moeini, Sanad Ali (both Dibba Al Fujairah)

KEY OUTS: Omair Al Hosani (Dibba Al Fujairah), Salem Saeed (Emirates Club), Saif Mohammed (Al Shaab)

PREDICTION: Continuity has been key for Dhafra, who were the AGL’s success story of 2015/16. Khrbin and Co. can both cement their top-flight status and push for glory in the cup competitions.

DIBBA AL FUJAIRAH

NICKNAME: The Fishermen

COACH: Paulo Sergio

STAR PLAYER: Danilo de Oliveira

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Ahmed ibrahim

2015/16 FINISH: 10th

KEY INS: Nicandro Breeveld (Steaua Bucharest), Danilo de Oliveira (Chiangrai United), Ibrahim Qanber (Al Shaab)

KEY OUTS: Faisel Ahmed (Bani Yas), Tariq Ahmed, Nasser Abdulhadi (both Al Wahda)

PREDICTION: Troubles lies ahead for the club from the east coast. Have lost the coach who kept them up and many star players. Hold a big risk of relegation.

EMIRATES CLUB

NICKNAME: The Falcons

COACH: Theo Bucker

STAR PLAYER: Sebastian Saez

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Mohammed Saeed
2015/16 FINISH: 12th

KEY INS: Sebastian Saez (Al Wakrah), Augusto Cesar (Internacional), Hocine Ragued (Esperance de Tunis)

KEY OUTS: Mohammad Malalla (Hatta), Brett Holman (released – Brisbane Roar), Alassane Diallo (Al Shaab)

PREDICTION: Bucker will need to repeat his miraculous work from Dibba for his new side to avoid the drop. Saez must also be a success in front of goal.

HATTA

NICKNAME: Tornado

COACH: Walid Obaid

STAR PLAYER: Issiaka Ouedraogo

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Ali Al Khaja

2015/16 FINISH: Champions, First Division League

KEY INS: Mohammad Malalla (Emirates Club), Adrian Ropotan (Pandurii Targu Jiu), Issiaka Ouedraogo (Wolfsberger)

KEY OUTS: Jair Da Silva, Rodrigo Silva (both released), Tassio Santos (Ajman)

PREDICTION: The Tornado have given themselves hope of staying up with 14 new signings, full of AGL experience. Will be tight, but can do it.

ITTIHAD KALBA

NICKNAME: The Tigers

COACH: Fabio Viviani

STAR PLAYER: Mihai Costea

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Shahin Surour

2015/16 FINISH: Runners-up, First Division League

KEY INS: Shaheen Surour (Al Jazira – loan), Bakari Kone (Wydad Casablanca), Salam Shaker (Al Fateh)

KEY OUTS: Papa Waigo, Kamel Chafni, Carmelo Gonzalez (all released)

PREDICTION: Kalba have bounced between the two divisions since 2009/10 and the signs aren’t good that this manic run is about to end.

AL JAZIRA

NICKNAME: Pride of Abu Dhabi

COACH: Henk ten Cate

STAR PLAYER: Ali Mabkhout

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Khalfan Mubarak

2015/16 FINISH: Seventh

KEY INS: Mbark Boussoufa (free agent – Lokomotiv Moscow), Mohammed Fawzi (Al Ain), Salem Abdulla (Al Wasl)

KEY OUTS: Khalid Sabeal (Al Wasl), Kenwyne Jones (loan expired – Atlanta United)

PREDICTION: Ten Cate secured the President’s Cup last term, but Fawzi’s arrival alone will not fix a problem defence which will impinge any title bid.

AL NASR

NICKNAME: Blue Wave

COACH: Ivan Jovanovic

STAR PLAYER: Jires Kembo Ekoko

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Jassem Yaqoub

2015/16 FINISH: Fourth

KEY INS: Fawaz Awana (Bani Yas), Abdelaziz Barrada (Marseille), Wanderley (Sharjah)

KEY OUTS: Luis Jimenez (Al Arabi), Jamal Ibrahim (Sharjah), Ali Al Ameri (Bani Yas)

PREDICTION: Looked poised to strongly challenge for the title, prior to the Wanderley eligibility farrago. Must retain focus to stay in the mix for silverware.

AL WASL

NICKNAME: The Cheetahs

COACH: Rodolfo Arruabarrena

STAR PLAYER: Fabio De Lima

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Ali Saleh

2015/16 FINISH: Sixth

KEY INS: Ronaldo Mendes (Comercial Vicosa), Humaid Abbas (free agent – Al Ahli), Helder Barbosa (AEK Athens)

KEY OUTS: Hugo Viana (released), Salem Abdulla (Al Jazira), Edgar Bruno (Adanaspor)

PREDICTION: Early signs have been promising under the new boss and with exceptional De Lima in side, Asian qualification is eminently possible

AL WAHDA

NICKNAME: The Clarets

COACH: Javier Aguirre

STAR PLAYER: Sebastian Tagliabue

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Mohamed Al Akbari

2015/16 FINISH: Third

KEY INS: Tariq Ahmed, Nasser Abdulhadi (both Dibba Al Fujairah), Balazs Dzsudzsak(Bursaspor)

KEY OUTS: Denilson (Cruzeiro – loan), Amer Omar, Abdullah Al Noubi (both Bani Yas)

PREDICTION: If anyone is to break the duopoly of Ahli and Al Ain, it is Aguirre’s men. Their attack is frightening and squad is now full of depth.

SHARJAH

NICKNAME: The King

COACH: Giorgos Donis

STAR PLAYER: Gelmin Rivas

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Abdulla Ghanim

2015/16 FINISH: 11th

KEY INS: Gelmin Rivas (Al Ittihad), Digao (Al Hilal), Adrian Mierzejewski (free agent – Al Nassr)

KEY OUTS: Bader Abdulrahman (Hatta), Maicosuel (Atletico Mineiro – loan return), Wanderley (Al Nasr)

PREDICTION: A huge improvement is unavoidable after the excellent work from the summer. Should go from regular relegation contenders to the top six.

AL SHABAB

NICKNAME: The Hawks

COACH: Fred Rutten

STAR PLAYER: Henrique Luvannor

BRIGHTEST PROSPECT: Mohammad Juma

2015/16 FINISH: Fifth

KEY INS: Ruud Boymans (Utrecht), Tomas De Vincenti (APOEL), Mohammed Ibrahim (Dubai CSC)

KEY OUTS: Carlos Villanueva (Al Ittihad), Juninho Potiguar (Sheriff Tiraspol – loan return)

PREDICTION: Rutten’s track record means a return to the top three cannot be ruled out. Fitness of injury-prone striker Boymans will determine their success.

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IN PICS: Seven AGL summer signings to watch

Matt Monaghan 14/09/2016
Which players do you think will make a big impact this season?

Ahead of the new Arabian Gulf League season, Sport360 reporter Matt Monaghan picks his seven summer signings to look out for.

Which players do you see making an instant impact on the league and who do you think will go on to win the title this year?

Have your say by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

MOHAMED MALALLA
AGE: 32

TEAM: Hatta
POSITION: Forward
JOINED FROM: Emirates Club
FACTS: Fourth highest scoring Emirati during 2015/16, 307 minutes per AGL goal last season for Emirates Club.

BALAZS DZSUDZSAK
AGE: 29
TEAM: Al Wahda
POSITION: Left winger
JOINED FROM: Bursaspor
FACTS: 87 club goals in 348 games throughout his career, 2 goals against eventual winners Portugal at Euro 2012 for Hungary.

DIGAO
AGE: 28
TEAM: Sharjah
POSITION: Centre-back
JOINED FROM: Al Hilal
FACTS: 206 minutes per SPL goal conceded last season, 24 clean sheets in 45 Saudi Professional League. games from 2014-16

AMER ABDULRAHMAN
AGE: 27
TEAM: Al Ain
POSITION: Centre midfielder
JOINED FROM: Bani Yas
FACTS: 46 international caps for UAE since making debut in 2009, 188 minutes played per AGL booking (9) during 2015/16.

ASAMOAH GYAN
AGE: 30
TEAM: Al Ahli
POSITION: Centre forward
JOINED FROM: Shanghai SIPG (loan)
FACTS:

HELDER BARBOSA
AGE: 29
TEAM: Al Wasl
POSITION: Left winger
JOINED FROM: AEK Athens
FACTS: 79 youth caps for Portugal, but only one senior appearance, 32 assists and goals in 68 games for AEK from 2014-16.

RUUD BOYMANS
AGE: 27
TEAM: Al Shabab
POSITION: Centre forward
JOINED FROM: FC Utrecht
FACTS: 39 per cent of Utrecht’s league games played in from 2014-16, 84 minutes per Eredivise goal while at Utrecht.

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AG Super Cup preview: Ten Cate optimistic of Jazira upset

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The match takes place on foreign soil for the first time.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking 16th running of the showpiece match in Cairo is a repeat of May’s semi-final meeting in the President’s Cup. On that day, UAE forward Ali Mabkhout’s hat-trick propelled the Pride of Abu Dhabi past the Arabian Gulf League champions and set them on a course to lifting the UAE’s most prestigious trophy.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference at 30 June Stadium, the Dutchman stated he knew the winning formula to dispatch their vaunted opponents.

“Our semi-final in the President’s Cup against Al Ahli proved that form can sometimes go out of the window in these type of games,” the 61-year-old said, referencing the 3-2 triumph at Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium.

“We excelled against Al Ahli previously in such an encounter because we used a different approach. I am optimistic at our chances of returning to the UAE with the Super Cup.”

The sides experienced contrasting fortunes in the 2015/16 top flight. Ahli raced to the title, while a mid-season rescue job from Ten Cate saw his charges eventually limp home seventh.

A new campaign has seen fresh signings injected into both sqauds. The most prominent has been Ahli’s capture of Al Ain icon Asamoah Gyan, 30, on a year-long loan from Shanghai SIPG.

He said: “I’m still in the early days of my career with this team and I haven’t completed a month here yet. But owing to my previous experience here in UAE it was very easy for me to settle in with the players very quickly.

“I have a strong desire to win trophies with this group. Hopefully we can start with the Arabian Gulf Super Cup.”

Red Knights boss Cosmin Olaroiu has only just been re-introduced to his seven-strong UAE cohort after their long summer away with the national team. But the Romanian believed integration would not be an issue for the three-time Super Cup winners.

“It is not ideal that we just got our players back from the international break, but the wonderful thing about Al Ahli is that we have been together for three years now, so the players know how to play together,” said Olaroiu.

Ahli come into the clash on the back of a 5-1 mauling of bitter rivals Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf Super Cup, with this following an opening 1-0 defeat at Al Nasr. In the same competition, Jazira drew their only match 2-2 against Al Wahda.

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