Matar joins Fujairah after half season with Al Ain

Matt Jones 26/07/2016
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New challenge: Yaser Matar.

The versatile 30-year-old, the brother of Al Wahda and UAE forward Ismail, joined the Garden City side in January, ending a six-year stay with the Pride of Abu Dhabi.

He featured sparingly for Zlatko Dalic’s side and was announced as a Wolves player by the club on Sunday.

“The former Al Ain player Yaser Matar has joined the ranks of Fujairah after the end of his contract with the team,” said a statement on the club’s Facebook page.

The arrival of Matar comes days after the Wolves snapped up former Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Lanry Kahinda. The 22-year-old Nigerian replaces compatriot Patrick Eze, who signed a contract extension with the club a few weeks ago but was immediately loaned out to Saudi Arabia’s Al Qadisiyah.

“Fujairah have agreed a contract with Nigerian Lanry Kahinda, to represent the team next season,” a Facebook statement read.

“This completes the foreign business after earlier agreeing a contract with Brazilian-born Armenia international midfielder Marcos Pizzelli, and the renewal of the Lebanon’s Hassan Maatouk.”

Pizzelli, 31, is an attacking midfielder with 46 caps for Armenia. He arrives after half a season with Saudi Pro League side Al Raed.

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Bani Yas' Belfodil eyes big European move

Matt Jones 25/07/2016
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Ishak Belfodil (c) arrived at Bani Yas last summer from Parma.

The 24-year-old former Internazionale frontman was prolific in his debut Arabian Gulf League campaign in 2015/16, notching 11 goals in 23 appearances following a summer switch from Serie A side Parma.

Belfodil is back in pre-season training with the Sky Blues but told France’s L’Equipe newspaper that he desires a return to a “major” European league. “I realised that money does not make me happy, because I simply love football more than the money,” Belfodil was quoted as saying by L’Equipe on Sunday.

Belfodil revealed Bani Yas have given him permission to terminate his two-year deal early, which would mean him forsaking potential earnings of ¤2.3m (Dh9.2m) this season.

The deadly young forward, however, says his desire to leave the Emirates is fuelled by his love of football over money. “I’m 24 and do not want my name to be forgotten in the world of football,” he said.

“Since the first moment I decided to play in the Gulf, I was convinced I would not stay forever. I signed a contract for two seasons and the club gives me the freedom to terminate the contract. I want to go back to Europe and play for a club in a major league, and for that I am ready to make great sacrifices.”

Belfodil, who started his career at French Ligue 1 giants Lyon, struck up a deadly partnership with Argentine Joaquin Larrivey last season, the ex-Celta Vigo striker netting 15 AGL goals. However, after a promising start, Luis Garcia’s men fell away in the second half of the season. Garcia was sacked before the campaign’s end and the Sky Blues finished a lowly ninth.

News of Belfodil’s desire to leave is another blow for the managerless club, who have already lost UAE international Amer Abduldrahman and Fawaz Awana to Al Ain and Al Nasr respectively this summer.

Belfodil said he had no remorse about joining Bani Yas, adding he has received offers from several Greek sides so far.

“I am responsible for my choices and despite the fact joining Bani Yas was not part of my goals, they did not put a knife to my throat in order to accept the offer,” he added. “They gave me an offer that was difficult to reject. I have received some offers from Greek clubs in the Europa League, but I want to return to a major league. I’m open to anything.”

Befoldil’s desire to leave will feel all too familiar for Bani Yas, who signed France’s 1998 World Cup-winning star David Trezeguet in 2011. However, his stint lasted bar-ely three months before he left to join his boyhood heroes River Plate, a move that proved money is not always king in the modern game.

It is understood the ex-Juventus star took a substantial paycut to join the Argentine giants, evidenced by his claim: “For me football is passion and I wasn’t getting that in Arabian football.”

Ex-Australia, Parma and Lazio midfielder Mark Bresciano also criticised the strength of football in the Middle East in the wake of his exit from Dubai’s Al Nasr in 2012.

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Lee urges more fight from Boss

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Time to dig deep: Lee Myung-joo (l).

The Al Ain players must “redouble our efforts” during their Austrian training camp to ensure they can battle for 2016 AFC Champions League glory, according to centre midfielder Lee Myung-joo.

The Boss are being put through their paces by coach Zlatko Dalic at the moment ahead of August 23’s quarter-final opening leg against Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent.

“We are well aware that the challenges which lie ahead in the new season requires a strong togetherness and a large concentration from everyone,” the 26-year-old South Korea international told his club’s Twitter account.

“We look forward to getting out of the camp of Austria the desired gains, so that we can achieve the best results in the AFC Champions League.

“A great opportunity lies ahead for us. But we should be well aware that our competitors also have the same desire. We must redouble our efforts, focus more and show our fighting spirit to achieve the optimal results. I would love to win the AFC Champions League with Al Ain. I feel we are able to achieve this.”

Al Ain are the only UAE side to lift Asia’s premier club trophy, beating BEC Tero Sasana in 2003.

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