Al Wasl 'reject dealing' with any Qatari club as blockade continues

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Staying put: Fabio De Lima in action for Al Wasl (Chris Whiteoak).

The impact of the Qatar blockade was forcibly felt in Middle East football this weekend as Dubai’s Al Wasl angrily stated they “reject dealing with any (Qatari) club, institution or sports body” after reports stated star forward Fabio De Lima could be sold to Doha’s Al Rayyan.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives all severed relations with the nation last month because of its alleged support for terrorism. This has forced strain on relations between the nations, at all levels.

As such, reports in midweek about a €10 million (Dh42.1m) move for the 24-year-old winner of Best Foreign Player at the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League Awards forced a stinging rebuttal from the Cheetahs management.

“Al Wasl has always been a symbol of patriotism throughout its history,” a club statement read about De Lima, who has scored 61 times in 76 run-outs since his 2014 arrival from Atletico Goianiense.

“It is committed to everything our wise leadership does and stands behind it. Al Wasl never fails its duties to the homeland and our leadership, against a state that has tried to undermine the stability of our country and our security.

“It is our responsibility to categorically reject dealing with any club, institution or sports body in Qatar in any way.”

AGL champions Al Jazira have agreed deals for El Jaish pair Sardor Rashidov and Romarinho, but both are free agents after the Doha side merged with Lekhwiya.

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UAE conquer Nepal as AFC U-23 qualifiers begin with an easy win

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Flying start: Mohamed Al Akbari (r) was among the goals for the UAE (UAE Football Association).

The whirlwind expedition for the UAE’s next generation to reach the peak of Asian football got off to a successful, and predictable, start on Saturday night as they conquered minnows Nepal.

A brace from Al Jazira forward Ahmed Al Attas, plus efforts from the Al Wahda trio of Mohamed Al Akbari, Khalid Bawazir and Mohammed Al Hammadi, saw the men from the Himalayas sent tumbling back down to Earth as the breakneck 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers got off to a resounding start.

Coach Hassan Al Abdoli must now hope the 5-0 winning margin provides a healthy boost to goal difference in a tight Group D, from which only one side is guaranteed entry to next January’s tournament in China. With Lebanon up next on Monday and emerging Uzbekistan the final combatants on Wednesday, much work remains.

The long-term former assistant to ex-senior supremo Mahdi Ali will have been buoyed by what he saw at a Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Ain packed by patriotic Nepalese. An elan in attack was matched by exemplary concentration at the back, admittedly against severely-limited opponents.

The rout began in the seventh minute. Bani Yas flyer Suhail Al Noubi was clumsily felled in the box by centre-back Gaurav Budhathoki, allowing Al Attas to lash in from the penalty spot.

The duo then combined to give Al Attas a tap-in, with Wahda forward Al Akbari making it 3-0 with a glancing header. Playmaker Bawazir punished a handball from 12 yards before the break, with substitute Al Hammadi’s diving header rounding out the scoring on the hour mark.

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Al Ain park transfer chase and wait for Douglas decision

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On the spot: Douglas has fallen out of favour at Al Ain (Chris Whiteoak).

Al Ain currently plan to see what happens with mothballed striker Douglas before they complete their four-player foreign quota.

Douglas, 29, was deregistered by the Boss in the New Year following a crisis of confidence in the wake of his critical penalty miss during defeat in the 2016 AFC Champions League final. But a scoring record of 29 goals in 46 games since his January 2016 arrival from Japan’s Tokushima Vortis has generated plenty of interest in him, with Qatar’s Al Gharafa plus the Chinese pair of Tianjin TEDA and Yanbian Fude all recently failing with bids.

An inability to complete the sale has had a knock-on effect in regards to the Boss’ incomings. Their pursuit of a winger has been parked, for now, until funds are brought in from the exit of the Brazilian, who has one year left on his deal.

Among the targets pursued are prolific Partizan Belgrade forward Leonardo, rising Parana Clube playmaker Renatinho and winger Guilherme of Ekstraklasa holders Legia Warsaw. Al Ain have until August 6 to register all players for the latter stages of the 2017 AFC Champions League, where they meet Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the quarter-finals on August 21 and September 11.

They have already recruited Sweden No9 Marcus Berg from Panathinaikos and Japan defensive utility man Tsukasa Shiotani of Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Brazilian forward Caio has been retained after he scored 18 times in 45 matches during an impressive debut campaign.

Meanwhile, Brazilian giants Cruzeiro have been linked with landing Sharjah centre-back Digao.

Digao, 29, made 19 run-outs in the Arabian Gulf League last term after being procured from Hilal. UOL Sport have stated he could be set for a return home if an early release from his two-year arrangement is successfully negotiated.

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