Al Jazira beat Fulham & Napoli to signing of Anzhi midfielder

Kenny Laurie 14/01/2014
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New recruit: Midfielder Jucilei replaces former captain Oliveira.

Al Jazira have announced the signing of Brazilian international Jucilei Da Silva – after releasing former captain Ricardo Oliveira.

The 25-year-old midfielder joins from Russian side Anzhi with Jazira claiming to have beaten Premier League side Fulham and Italian giants Napoli to his signature.

The Brazilian international, who has been capped twice, says he comes with a knowledge of the club and a hunger for silverware.

“I come here with great ambitions and motivation to help win local and regional trophies,” said the 25-year-old. “I didn’t hesitate and accepted the offer directly.

“The club has become a global favourite for the best players and coaches in the world and that is why I am here.

“I had heard from fellow Brazilians about UAE football and Al Jazira and I have a good knowledge with both.

“I want to make myself available as soon as possible so I can help the team.”

The move brings to an end Oliveira’s tenure with the club after having been at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium since 2009.

The former AC Milan player led the club to the league title back in 2011.

Striker Nelson Valdez’s future with the club is still in doubt with Al Jazira being linked with former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo, who is currently at Lokomotiv Moscow.

Elsewhere, Mariano Donda has said he plans to see out his contract at Al Wasl despite rumours that he is leaving this week for a loan move to Ajman.

The Argentine could still leave the club this January but says that any move will come from the club, not from him.

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Al Ain & Al Ahli reach President’s Cup semi-finals

Kenny Laurie 14/01/2014
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Tight battle: Asamoah Gyan helped Al Ain sneak past Al Wasl.

Al Ain scraped into the President’s Cup semi-finals after a nail-biting penalty shootout victory over Al Wasl in Abu Dhabi last night.

After the game finished 2-2 following extra time, Al Ain were left thanking their lucky stars having battled back from 2-0 down to squeeze through 9-8 on spot-kicks.

The shootout went all the way to the goalkeepers with Cheetahs stopper Rashid Ali missing the decisive kick immediately after Al Ain stopper Khalid Essa had tucked his away. 

An Asamoah Gyan own goal and a Mariano Donda strike, in probably his last game for the club, had given the Cheetahs a well deserved 2-0 lead but Alex Brosque struck before half time and Gyan would later score from the spot to force extra time and penalties. 

Al Ain have endured a tough season but their output has betrayed probably the strongest squad in the UAE. On top of that, they have a leading coach in Quique Sanchez Flores. They were expected to win, and win easily against an Al Wasl outfit in a state of flux.

And with Al Ain off the pace in the Arabian Gulf League, the President’s Cup offers the chance for serious silverware.

Al Wasl simply wanted it more in the opening half an hour and profited as a result.

Their opener came in the 11th minute and from pressure within the box from a corner, the ball ping-ponging around the penalty area before coming off Gyan and into the goal. Their second was perhaps a brighter look to the future as new signing Edson burst into the penalty area, forcing Mohammad Salem to bring him down in a fit of desperation.

The out-of-favour Donda stepped up to the spot. Essa made a smart save at waist height to his right but could only parry back to the Argentine who casually knocked in Al Wasl’s second in the 26th minute.

Yet at 2-0, it was then that Al Ain’s quality began to shine through and their riposte was classy.

A well worked move made it’s way to Omar Abdulrahman on the edge of the box, whose first time pass bulleted into the feet of Brosque. A perfect first touch put him in position and a well-struck effort brought Al Ain back into it.

Gyan continually troubled Al Wasl’s back line with his movement and, though he looked a yard offside, latched onto a though-ball from Ibrahim Diaky and was brought down by keeper Ali. 

Untroubled, Gyan stepped up and stroked home the penalty to bring the sides level. It wouldn’t be his last of the night either as time ebbed away and Al Ain booked their semi-final spot via a shootout.

Holders Al Ahli come from begind to see off Al Wahda 

President’s Cup holders Al Ahli moved safely into the semifinals last night as they twice came back against Al Wahda to win 4-2. 

It took just 11 minutes for Al Wahda to get on the scoresheet through Damien Diaz but it was soon cancelled out by Luis Jimenez six minutes later.

The Excellencies responded immediately with Diaz again on target, giving Al Wahda the lead going into half time. From there, Al Ahli were rampant. Grafite equalised early in the second half before Ciel and Ismael Al Hammadi wrapped up the win. 

In Bani Yas, Al Dhafra snuck into the semi-finals courtesy of a last-second winner from Jose as the Abu Dhabi side defeated Al Shabab 1-0.

Elsewhere, Al Thaid’s dream run came to an end as they went down 3-2 to Al Nasr courtesy of goals from Lima – from the spot – as well as Ibrahima Toure and Tareq Ahmed.

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Belhoul returns to Al Wasl hoping to usher in era of stability

Kenny Laurie 13/01/2014
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On his way out: Al Wasl midfielder Mariano Donda (r) is likely to leave the club.

Al Wasl welcomed back former chairman Rashid Belhoul to the club on Sunday with the hope of bringing stability to the club.

The Cheetahs take on Al Ain in the President’s Cup quarter-finals today in Abu Dhabi and will no doubt be buoyed by the swift arrival of the man who was in charge the last time the club enjoyed a league triumph.

While the new chairman has been revealed, the new board members will be announced later in the week.

The traumas of 2013 carried over into the New Year on Friday when Abdulla Hareb and his board resigned en masse, stating they had failed to take the club to the heights expected.

Ex-chairman Hareb was in the position for little under a year and oversaw another period of upheaval and underachievement. Four managers – Guy Lacombe, Eid Baroot, Laurent Banide and Hector Cuper – walked through the door in 2013.

“We are pleased to announce Belhoul’s return to the club,” an Al Wasl spokesman said. “We had a lot of success the last time he was here between 2002 and 2008. Although the new chairman has been announced, the club won’t know the new board until at least after the Al Ain game."

While all is seemingly on the mend at the board level, the club is still in trouble on the pitch.

Star player Mariano Donda and new defender Milan Susak could be on their way out of the club while new signing Juan Emmanuel Culio, formerly of Deportivo La Coruna, will be unable to make his debut today due to some issues with his registration forms.

Fellow new signing Hassan Zahran, who left Al Dhafra this week on a three-and-a-half year deal, is expected to make his bow.

Al Wasl face a tough task today in Al Ain, who are managed by last year’s winner Quique Sanchez Flores, who enjoyed success with previous club Al Ahli. The Cheetahs are in a difficult run of form of late.

Since their 2-1 win over Al Ahli, that broke the latter’s unbeaten start to the season, back in mid-December, Al Wasl have failed to win a single game.

PRESIDENT'S CUP FIXTURES

Today

17:00 Al Thaid v Al Nasr at Sharjah

17: 05 Al Dhafra v Shabab at Bani Yas

20:05 Al Ain v Al Wasl at Abu Dhabi

20:05 Al Wahda v Al Ahli at Al Ain

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