Naturalization of Al Wahda star Sebastian Taglibue would herald new era for the UAE

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(PLC).

A rumoured ground-breaking decision to imminently allow prolific Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue to represent the UAE at 2019’s Asian Cup could herald a new era of naturalization as “more will come”, says Al Wahda chairman Ahmed Al Rumaithy.

Al Khaleej newspaper reported on Monday that the Arabian Gulf League’s record foreign goal scorer – with 111 strikes in 113 matches for the Clarets – could be given his Emirati papers before January 5’s continental kick-off against Bahrain on January 5. The uncapped 33-year-old became eligible this summer under FIFA rules as he has been a constant resident since he was purchased from Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab Riyadh during June 2013.

“Concerning Tigali [his nickname]; First of all, the UAE nationality it is an honour for anybody who holds it,” tweeted Al Rumaithy on Tuesday.

“Second of all, he is not the first player and he is not the last. More will come.

“Third of all, Al Wahda have a lot of support from the national team and there is no benefit for just adding a substitute player – we will not compromise on this. We have kept the player for more than five years and that makes it easy.”

Of Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad, 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman was born and raised in Saudi Arabia as a member of the Yemeni diaspora. He received his UAE documents as a teenager prior to 2006’s switch to Al Ain’s academy.

Veteran centre-back Ismail Ahmed was born in Morocco, but was naturalized as an Emirati citizen. He’s been a key figure since his 2012 debut.

Of the current crop of foreign stars in the AGL, leading Brazil-born Al Wasl forwards Caio Canedo and Fabio De Lima are one year away from reaching the five-year threshold.

Midfielder Ibrahim Diaky was granted UAE citizenship in 2006. But he had already played one World Cup qualifier for Ivory Coast in 2001 and was ineligible for his adopted nation.

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UAE need to 'erase image' and bounce back in Laos friendly, says Al Ain star Mohanad Salem

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(Twitter/@uaefa_ae).

The ailing UAE must “erase the image” shown in last week’s alarming Trinidad and Tobago loss and belatedly kick-start their 2019 Asian Cup preparations on Tuesday against minnows Laos, according to veteran centre-back Mohanad Salem.

Under-pressure boss Alberto Zaccheroni oversaw a fifth-successive winless match when the undercooked Caribbeans – who had not played since April and only managed to train 24 hours before Thursday’s friendly – eased to a 2-0 victory at Catalonia’s Estadi Palamos Costa Brava.

This latest worrisome result forced the UAE Football Association to issue a public vote of confidence, with less than four months to go until they host the continental competition. Al Ain’s Zoran Mamic also distanced himself from talk of being drafted in, while legendary former Al Jazira tactician Henk ten Cate holds interest in the position.

For Boss defender Salem, the current coach’s eye for detail means he remains the right man to lead them into January 5’s big kick-off against Bahrain at Zayed Sports City.

“Laos is an opportunity for us to erase the image that we showed during the last match, in which we did not present the expected form,” said the 33-year-old warrior.

“All the players know how important this stage of preparation is. Everyone is keen to give everything in order to seal their place in the final squad.

“The technical staff must be praised for the way they help the players in all respects; technical, physical and psychological, as well as dealing with mistakes immediately.”

Former AC Milan, Juventus and Japan supremo Zaccheroni spoke in the aftermath of the need for increased fluidity between midfield and attack. This could see Al Ain centre midfielder Amer Abdulrahman restored to the XI.

Al Nasr centre-back Khalifa Mubarak and Al Ain right wing-back Bandar Al Ahbabi are other contenders to start.

The Whites only threatened with pot shots against Trinidad. This was despite the fact 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman and 2015 Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout returned for the first time since January 5’s breaking of curfew before the consequential Gulf Cup final loss to Oman.

Laos are ranked 178th by FIFA, 101 places below the UAE. They have not played since March’s 2-2 draw v Bangladesh and are rebuilding after 15 current or former players were banned for life by the AFC in February 2017 for match-fixing.

When the nations last met in Abu Dhabi during June 2017, a 4-0 victory was earned by the Whites.

Thoughts of a free hit, however, are negated by the fact that Andorra were placed at 130th last month when a listless goalless draw was registered at the end of a three-week training camp in Austria.

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Ittihad Kalba churn continues with addition of Colombian striker Tommy Tobar

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(Twitter/@Carabobo_FC).

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.

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