Al Jazira appoint coach Marcel Keizer as replacement for fellow Dutchman Henk ten Cate

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Marcel Keizer (r) at Al Jazira (Twitter/@AlJazira_uae).

Former Ajax head coach Marcel Keizer was confirmed on Saturday at Al Jazira on a two-year deal as the successor to fellow Dutchman Henk ten Cate.

Keizer had been out of work since he was dismissed by the Amsterdam giants last December once they were eliminated at the round-of-16 stage of the KNVB Cup by troubled FC Twente.

The 49-year-old was promoted internally after strong work at Jong Ajax the previous June to replace Borussia Dortmund-bound Peter Bosz. His short reign also included failures in the Champions League and Europa League play-offs to deny the club European football for the first time in 25 years.

Another steep task awaits Keizer as he now replaces the revered Ten Cate – also a former Ajax boss. The retired 63-year-old earned legendary status at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium thanks to winning the 2015/16 President’s Cup and 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League, plus pushing Real Madrid all the way on home soil during the 2017 Club World Cup’s semi-finals.

Keizer will be expected to oversee an overhaul of the squad whose limp title defence ended with a seventh-placed top-flight finish, amid significant off-field issues.

Brazilian forward Romarinho is the only member of the four-player foreign quartet expected to be retained. Influential Morocco centre midfielder Mbark Boussoufa has already departed, while the futures of Oman internationals Mohammed Al Musalami and Harib Al Saadi remain in doubt.

The loss of emerging UAE forward Ahmed Al Attas, 22, on a free transfer to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club should be imminently announced. A career-best tally of six goals in 15 AGL appearances was recorded by him during 2017/18.

Keizer made four Eredivisie appearances as a midfielder at Ajax from 1987-99. He then played out his career at SC Cambuur, De Graafschap and FC Emmen before retiring in 2002.

Stints in charge of lower-league outfits Argon and VVSB followed from 2007-2012. After that he had spells at FC Emmen and Cambuur, with whom he was relegated from the 2015/16 Eredivisie, while his time with Jong Ajax culminated in a second-placed finish in 2016/17’s Eerste Divisie.

His subsequent move up to the Ajax first team was troubled from the off, even though he was dismissed with his charges sitting second in the Eredivisie – five points off eventual champions PSV Eindhoven.

General manager Edwin van der Sar was scathing in his assessment.

He said: “We had a horrible summer and poor start to the season. The elimination from European competition was the lowest point.”

Kaizer will begin his new role on July 1. Pre-season will likely be undertaken, once again, in his native Netherlands.

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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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