Abdullah Al Naqbi chose to sign for Shabab Al Ahli and spurn Sharjah despite higher wages

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Abdullah Al Naqbi playing for Al Wasl (PLC).

Centre midfielder Abdullah Al Naqbi spurned greater wages and a bigger transfer fee from Sharjah in order to become Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s first Emirati signing.

Al Naqbi, 25, brought an end to the fierce chase surrounding him on Tuesday when he completed a move to Rashid Stadium from Al Dhafra on a four-year contract.

This followed an impressive 2017/18 on loan at Al Wasl, in which his final-day goal at his future employers secured third spot in the Arabian Gulf League and a route of entry to the 2019 AFC Champions League through that competition.

“I thank the management of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club for their confidence in me,” a gleeful Al Naqbi tweeted on Wednesday.

This decision came despite the ambitious King being prepared to lavish more cash on the deal. Their intentions had previously caused Al Nasr to drop out of the race.

But the prospect of playing a key role at a revitalised Shabab Al Ahli proved too alluring. Ex-Al Ittihad coach Jose Luis Sierra is imminently expected to concur on a switch to Dubai, while further funds are available for transfers.

Emerging UAE forward Ahmed Al Attas should soon arrive on a free transfer from Al Jazira.

Shabab Al Ahli finished a distant fifth in their inaugural campaign.

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Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club make midfielder Abdullah Al Naqbi first official Emirati signing

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Abdullah Al Naqbi in action for Al Wasl (PLC).

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club have made emerging Al Dhafra midfelder Abdullah Al Naqbi their first Emirati addition since last summer’s merger.

Al Naqbi, 25, represented a highly coveted figure in the Arabian Gulf League’s nascent summer market after his outstanding displays on loan at Al Wasl in 2017/18. The third-placed Cheetahs were unable to meet the financial demands of the Western Knights, ultimately creating a chase between ambitious Sharjah and the Rashid Stadium-outfit.

This battle ended on Tuesday when the parties reached total agreement about a move to the latter. An official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday.

Shabab Al Ahli had previously only operated in the foreign market since May 2017’s shock amalgamation. South Korean playmaker Moon Chang-jin was captured last summer and Croatian forward Ante Erceg followed in the winter.

An impressive free-transfer deal for emerging UAE and Al Jazira forward Ahmed Al Attas is also believed to have been sealed. The 22-year-old enjoyed a career-best return of six goals in 15 top-flight matches last term, despite the dethroned champions’ struggles.

If he is soon teamed up with Al Naqbi, this will represent a smart start to the transfer window for the managerless Shabab Al Ahli.

The Dhafra youth product scored once in 17 AGL matches on temporary terms at Zabeel Stadium. This form saw him drop on the radar of UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni, although he is yet to make his debut.

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Fujairah continue life without Diego Maradona as coach Ivan Hasek answers a second call

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Ivan Hasek when in charge of Emirates Club.

Promoted Fujairah have installed ex-Czech Republic, Al Ahli and Emirates Club boss Ivan Hasek as the permanent replacement for Argentina icon Diego Maradona on a one-year deal.

Hasek, 54, returns to Fujairah Stadium for a second spell in charge. He previously engineered an incredible Arabian Gulf League-escape act for the Wolves in 2014/15, but was dismissed in the following March as they slid towards eventual relegation.

The post on the east coast had turned into a hot seat during recent weeks. Maradona was dismissed within hours of April 28’s failure to gain automatic promotion, with an aborted move to bring him back eventually leading to ex-UAE boss Dr Abdullah Mesfer guiding them to a narrow promotion play-off triumph against Hatta.

Hasek inherits a squad that has already been bolstered by the likes of Hatta’s prolific Brazilian midfielder Fernando Gabriel, Algerian forward Mohamed Benyettou from Al Shabab Riyadh and UAE Under-23 goalkeeper Abdullah Ismail from Al Nasr.

The 54-times-capped former midfielder lifted the top-flight crown with – the now defunct – Ahli back in 2009/10. But he’s gained a reputation as a relegation battler in recent years.

A miracle was performed to keep Emirates up in 2016/17. Yet he was gone by last October after his side opened the next campaign with just one win from their opening six league games.

Meanwhile, fellow new boys Bani Yas have selected ex-Croatia defensive midfielder Krunoslav Jurcic as the man to guide them back into the top flight.

Jurcic, 48, was unveiled by the First Division League champions on Monday at Bani Yas Stadium. He fills the vacancy left by the ruthless dismissal of Goran Tufegdzic, despite the Serbian securing an instant return after 2016/17’s painful relegation.

The ex-Torino and Sampdoria player has most recently found employment in Saudi Arabia. He led a ‘B’ team to a group-stage elimination at the winter’s Gulf Cup that featured a goalless draw with the UAE, then lasted just nine games in charge of faltering Riyadh giants Al Nassr in the Saudi Professional League.

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