Santo ready for more after Al Ahli return

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Back with a bang: Santo.

Relieved right-back Essa Santo is delighted to have ended “one year of suffering” during Al Ahli’s Arabian Gulf Cup-opener.

Santo, 29, returned to the Red Knights starting line-up in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Al Nasr for the first time since he sustained serious cruciate ligament damage during their 2015 pre-season training camp.

The UAE international had only previously managed a 13-minute cameo as the Arabian Gulf League- champions thrashed relegated Al Shaab 5-0 in May 8’s final day and he was thrilled to experience a full game once again.

He said: “First of all, thank God I am back. It is been one year of suffering, I would say. Coming back today was really good motivation for me to continue.

“I really was so happy to start this game and I hope I can continue.”

An important mental hurdle was also cleared in the first half by the UAE international as he went in for a thunderous 50/50 challenge with midfielder Tariq Ahmed.

He said: “I wouldn’t say I was scared. But you need confidence. I had several games in the training camp to build this confidence. I wouldn’t say I was that frightened.”

The Ahli dressing room was lifted last Wednesday by the shock addition of ex-Al Ain icon Asamoah Gyan on a season’s loan from Shanghai SIPG. Santo used a renowned musical artist to predict bright times are ahead with the striker, who plundered 128 goals in 123 Boss matches from 2011-15.

He said: “It is a surprise. But they say ‘your worst enemy could be your best friend’, thank you to Bob Marley for that.

“Asamoah Gyan will be a positive addition. I hope he can bring a lot of trophies for us.”

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