The Qatari Star League has welcomed another big-name player to the Middle East after Al Gharafa completed the signing of Djibril Cisse from Queens Park Rangers.
The 31-year-old links up with the Qatari side, who are managed by former Portsmouth and Lyon boss Alain Perrin, on loan for the rest of the season.
Cisse’s position at Loftus Road had been brought into question following their signing of Loic Remy from Marseille, and Cisse will now hope to rediscover his best form in the Gulf.
The Frenchman, who spent time with Liverpool and Auxerre among others, has managed just four goals in 21 games for QPR this season after netting six in eight when he first joined the club on loan last January.
Cisse becomes Gharafa’s second high profile capture of the month after the club also snared Brazilian attacker Nene on a two-and-a-half year deal from Paris Sain-Germain.
The UAE have slipped seven places in the latest edition of the FIFA World Rankings – despite reaching the final of the 2013 Gulf Cup.
Mahdi Ali’s men head into Friday’s final against Iraq having played four, won four in their Gulf Cup campaign to date: Qatar (3-1), Bahrain (2-1), Oman (2-0) and Kuwait (1-0).
But despite being one step away from a regional title, not to mention just one defeat in 11 since Mahdi took charge of the senior team in September, UAE’s standing in world football is on the decline.
The explanation probably lies due to the fact that the tournament in Bahrain is not officially recognised by the powers that be in world football.
Thursday’s release of the updated list shows that the Whites – enjoying a 10-game unbeaten run – are now 103rd in the rankings having climbed to 96th last month
Despite the slip the UAE are still the second highest ranked side of the eight teams that competed at this year’s Gulf Cup, with only Iraq placed higher at 89th – up three places.
Oman were the biggest losers this month having fallen 13 places to 108th, two spots behind Qatar who dropped from 98th. Those two are followed by Bahrain (117), Saudi Arabia (118), Kuwait (120) and Yemen (165).
FIFA World Rankings (Gulf Cup finalists):
Iraq – 89 (+3)
UAE – 103 (-7)
Qatar – 106 (-8)
Oman – 108 (-13)
Bahrain – 117 (+2)
Saudi Arabia – 118 (+8)
Kuwait – 120 (-3)
Yemen – 165 (-1)
The chairman of the Gulf Cup Media Committee, Tawfeeq Al Salhi, has defended the actions of security staff and police after thousands of fans were left outside the National Stadium on Friday.
An estimated 3,000 supporters were unable to get into the ground, while thousands more were forced to stand in gangways and aisles having forced their way in to see the UAE defeat Iraq.
“There were plenty of fans outside the stadium, the security had to make sure to close the gates and protect the people for safety aspects,” Al Salhi said.
“All of you as media will have seen the rush even in front of the media gate. Even though it was the special centre for media staff we still did our best, but to accuse the organising committee of mismanagement is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Al Salhi was also forced to support the organisers of the Gulf Cup amid accusations that Iraqi fans had been marginalised.
Iraq were given a small section, high to the right of the main stand of the stadium for their supporters, which was eventually opened as an overspill to UAE fans.
With some fans who had made the trip not allowed out of Bahrain airport, this added to a feeling of isolation for the Iraqis.
“This must be a coordination between the authorities and the football associations, not us,” Al Salhi added. “There isn’t any interfering in this subject, there is a coordination, any football association that coordinated with us, we as a media committee recommended we have the representatives of Iraq, Yemen.
“Their fans should coordinate with the Bahrain FA, not with the organising committee. They are responsible.
“Bahrain did not reject the entrance of any fans or supporters to Bahrain. We have provided all the media personnel access into Bahrain. We did not reject any personnel to Bahrain.”