The Clarets pushed Abu Dhabi rivals Al Ain hard last term, eventually finishing seven-points adrift in second place. They’ve been circumspect in the subsequent transfer market, gaining real quality through prolific Al Ahli Jeddah winger Leonardo and a promising talent in Al Nasr left-back Hussain Abbas.
Allied with iconic forward Ismail Matar’s one-season renewal – the 35-year-old first joined in 2007 – and the return of UAE centre-back Hamdan Al Kamali from a serious knee injury, Reghecampf is expecting an improvement from a strong debut campaign which featured triumphs in the Arabian Gulf Cup and Arabian Gulf Super Cup.
“It is with pleasure that we managed to contract with Leonardo and Hussain Abbas,” said the ex-Romania midfielder. “We wish them success and a quick harmony with the rest of the team.
“The selection of players is a sound decision technically because the contracts make the squad complete and now we have a stronger team than the previous season.
“It was with great pleasure that we renewed the contract of Ismail Matar for an additional season, plus there is also the return of Hamdan Al Kamali from injury.
“We wish provide a season full of successes and continue to achieve trophies. The technical staff and the players will all work as one family, whether we win or lose.”
Great anticipation, in particular, surrounds Leonardo. The Brazilian struck 11 times in 23 run-outs in Saudi Arabia last season, with this following 27 strikes in 41 matches for Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade.
Wahda will defend their Super Cup-crown against Al Ain on Saturday at Cairo’s 30 June Stadium.
Meanwhile, Al Wasl received a boost on Monday when star forward Fabio De Lima began rehabilitation in Dubai after successful surgery.
De Lima, 24, damaged a knee during the early weeks of pre-season training and had been recuperating in his native Brazil.
The Cheetahs begin their 2018/19 AGL campaign against Dibba Al Fujairah on August 30.
An appropriate time to analyse why the UAE Under-23s required a back door to make the 2018 Asian Games’ knockouts is to come.
Now, coach Maciej Skorza must take stock and see what awaits his side after they sneaked through as one of the best third-placed sides in Indonesia. The full line-up will be decided on Monday.
An improved display against rampant China when Group C wound to a close still delivered a second loss from three matches. But at least this one didn’t come with the caveat of a definite end.
Skorza’s predecessors oversaw failures to make the Rio 2016 Olympics and 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
But whether the Pole can even repeat 2014’s run to the Asian Games’ quarter-finals may require a gentle draw.
The UAE’s latest reversal in the current edition was delivered in remarkable fashion.
Shandong Luneng midfielder Yao Junsheng looked up from near the halfway line on 71 minutes and powerfully lobbed goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shamsi to seal a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory.
A look of astonishment crept across the Wahda man’s face. In reality, he’s now culpable for both reversals at Jalak Harupat Stadium – flimsy fingertips helped Syria to an opening 1-0 triumph last Tuesday.
The Junior Whites had gained a deserved lead on Sunday through Fujairah winger Mohammed Khalfan’s snapped low finish against qualified opponents, who came in with a goal difference of +9. All well and good.
Sharjah’s Majed Surour and Al Jazira’s Mohamed Al Attas at that stage were winning the midfield battle. On the flank, Khalfan was a threat in behind.
The prospect of a first eliminations in the pools since 2006 seemed reassuringly distant.
This warm feeling would be vanquished close to half-time. Beijing Guoan left winger Wei Shihao would cut inside onto his favoured right boot and arrow a powerful effort past the helpless Al Shamsi.
Even better was to come through Junsheng.
Encouragement in defeat, then. But defeat, all the same.
UAE coach Maciej Skorza has urged his troops to double their “work, effort and focus” in Sunday’s pressurised decider against rampant China as they attempt to avoid a first group-stage elimination at the Asian Games for 12 years.
The Under-23 team suffered a listless 1-0 opening loss to Syria in Group C, but rebounded with a 4-1 thrashing of minnows Timor-Leste. They now require a result at Indonesia’s Jalak Harupat Stadium against qualified opponents who’ve scored nine goals and conceded none in both victories.
With Syria playing helpless Timor at the same time, a spot as one of the four-best third-placed finishers is likely to be required by the UAE. They come into the final round of pool games with the second-best record among this number, with three points and a goal difference of +2.
“We will have to double our work, effort and focus throughout the game and not rush,” said coach Skorza. “The challenge is still in our hands and we will fight to achieve that.
“The players are well aware of what needs to be done.
“Despite the lack of time to rest and take breath, the technical and administrative staff have been working on the players in all aspects – technical, physical and psychological.”
Al Jazira forward Zayed Al Ameri struck twice in Thursday’s victory. Ittihad Kalba loanee Shaheen Surour and Al Wahda centre-back Salem Sultan also got among the goals.
This result has given the UAE a chance of making the round of 16 that Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club-bound forward Ahmed Al Attas does not intend to pass up.
Best of luck to our national Olympic football team 🇦🇪 in their match tomorrow against China 🇨🇳 at the Asia games 2018 ,, pic.twitter.com/PHtAvOLpvq— UAEFA (@uaefa_ae) August 18, 2018
He said: “All the team have agreed to give everything to achieve the positive result that will ensure we qualify.
“The task will not be easy, especially as China have shown a remarkable level and were able to harvest all six points.
“But the UAE players are able to overcome them because of our solidarity, fighting spirit and good discipline.
“All the players are keen to gain one of the qualifying cards and charge into the round of 16.”
The coming of a ‘Golden Generation’ was heralded by the UAE’s charge to silver in 2010. The nation then made the quarter-finals four years later.