Yo-yo club Ittihad Kalba’s frantic start to 2018/19 has continued with the addition of Colombian centre forward Tommy Tobar from Venezuela’s Carabobo FC on a free transfer.
The promoted Tigers – who have alternated between the top-two divisions since promotion was won in 2009/10 – have already sacked coach Jorvan Vieira and brought back ex-AC Milan midfielder Fabio Viviani for a second stint at the helm. This followed August 31’s opening 6-2 thrashing by Al Wahda in the Arabian Gulf League.
Croatia forward Antonio Perosevic’s poor early impression upon arrival from Puskas Akademia saw him ditched in favour of Brazilian striker Myke Ramos of MTK Budapest last week, also on a season-long loan. Nigeria midfielder Raheem Lawal’s broken ankle in September 4’s goalless draw at Al Wasl in the Arabian Gulf Cup then created another vacancy in the foreign quartet that well-travelled Tobar will fill.
The 31-year-old struck 32 times in 65 run-outs for Carabobo in the Venezuelan Primera Division. This followed 2016/17’s prolific stint with Al Shamal in the Qatargas League, where he scored eight goals in 10 appearances.
“Officially, Ittihad Kalba contracts with Colombian striker Tommy Tobar on a free transfer for one season,” Kalba tweeted.
This transfer is the 16th of the striker’s career. He’s also represented Bolivia’s National Potosi, plus 11 Colombian outfits – including two stints at Millonarios.
Tobar comes to Kalba amid a 12-game goalless streak. He will look to end this run when the AGL resumes after the international break on September 14 versus Emirates Club.
Al Ain boss Zoran Mamic Al Ain is “extremely flattered” but has distanced himself from reports that he’s a possible replacement for struggling UAE supremo Alberto Zaccheroni, for whom the Football Association rallied behind on Saturday night.
Zaccheroni, 65, has come under increased pressure in the wake of Thursday’s woeful 2-0 friendly defeat against undercooked Trinidad and Tobago. The Italian has overseen a troubled build-up to January 2019’s Asian Cup on home soil – the Whites are winless in five matches and have scored just four times in 12 games overseen by him since his October 2017 arrival.
Legendary former Al Jazira tactician Henk ten Cate has already moved himself into position as a potential successor. But the candidature of last term’s Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup double winner was also rumoured to be of interest to the worried UAE FA.
“I am extremely flattered and honoured that my name is mentioned in connection to the UAE head coach,” Mamic tweeted.
“But [the] national team has a coach, Mr Zaccheroni [who] is a great coach with an amazing career and as Al Ain coach I am totally focused on our next games.
“Al Ain will continue to support the national team as always.”
This preceded a tweet from the UAE FA’s official account that declared no talks had been held with any other coaches.
It read: “The UAE Football Association denies what is being circulated in the media and social networking sites about communicating with any coach to take over for the Asian Cup. We appeal to everyone to stand behind the Whites and not to disturb preparations for the championships.”
Mamic lifted five major trophies at Dinamo Zagreb from 2013-16, prior to a brief stint at Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.
Al Ain poached him in February 2017. He made history in 2017/18 when Al Ain – the UAE’s most-decorated club – were guided to a first-ever double of the nation’s premier competitions.
Zaccheroni’s current Whites squad will meet minnows Laos on Tuesday in Catalonia.
The ex-AC Milan, Juventus and Japan supremo signed a contract until the end of the Asian Cup – a tournament in which he must make the final.
Al Wasl boss Gustavo Quinteros has embraced the “very important” challenge presented by Al Wahda on Sunday when last term’s Arabian Gulf Cup final is repeated in the current edition’s group stage.
The nine-man Clarets held on to secure a famous 2-1 victory when the clubs met in March’s rollercoaster showpiece. This painful result extended an 11-year domestic trophy drought for the vanquished outfit, then led by Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
His successor – also born in Argentina, but whom chose to represent Bolivia as a player – will now hope to improve on last week’s goalless draw against promoted Ittihad Kalba when Group A kicked off.
“Al Wasl has a very important game with Al Wahda, which is one of the major teams in the UAE and has a great technical stability,” said Quinteros, 53, of opponents who won 1-0 at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club.
“Between the two teams, the Gulf Cup is very important for Wasl.”
The Cheetahs will be without centre midfielders Khamis Esmail and Ali Salmeen, who are on UAE duty.
Meanwhile, a familiar face will return to the dugout for Kalba when they host Ajman.
Ex-AC Milan midfielder Fabio Viviani, 51, is back for a second stint in charge of the Tigers. This follows the exit of Jorvan Vieira, 64, after just one Arabian Gulf League fixture – a 6-2 thrashing by expected title challengers Wahda.
“I did not stop following the UAE league during my time in Italy,” said Viviani, who previously won just two of 11 top-flight fixtures with the yo-yo outfit from August-December 2016.
Spanish forward Pedro Conde has hailed the convivial atmosphere at Bani Yas ahead of Dibba Al Fujairah’s visit.
Conde, 30, struck the equaliser in the First Division League champions’ 1-1 AGL opener at Fujairah.
“It has been like one family since my first moment with the team,” said August’s addition from Greece’s PAS Giannina.