Months of frustration are over for Portuguese star Hugo Viana after the opening of the winter transfer window on Sunday saw him finally able to complete his protracted move to Al Wasl.
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Viana, 32, was a victim of the late registration saga that erupted at the close of the summer market at midnight on October 3.
The midfielder was one of five players whose switches were declared void by the UAE Football Association after an unauthorised extension was granted – Mohammed Nasser and Saeed Suroor at Bani Yas, Fujairah’s Ahmed Ibrahim and Ahmed Jumaa at Division One’s Al Shaab were also affected.
Weeks of wrangling saw world governing body FIFA exert pressure to prevent a U-turn, a final decision from the UAE FA rejecting all appeals coming at the end of October.
Wasl and Fujairah have now confirmed that the deals have been given authorisation, though Bani Yas vice-chairman Mubarak Awad bin Mahorom said that his side remain in the dark about whether Nasser and Suroor have been fully registered to play when the Arabian Gulf League resumes early next month.
At Wasl’s end, Viana was called in to sign the last documents yesterday afternoon, thus freeing the Cheetahs from the handicap that saw them only able to fill three of their four foreign-player slots for the first half of the AGL campaign.
Board member Mohamed Al Amri was thrilled by the development and believes the former Al Ahli midfielder could make his debut during tomorrow night’s friendly against Saudi Arabian giants Al Ittihad at Zabeel Stadium (19:00 kick-off).
“Everyone at Wasl has waited too long for this moment,” he said. “We cannot wait to see Hugo playing for our team, our fans are so excited about this.
“He could even play in the friendly against Al Ittihad on Tuesday, though we do not know yet for certain.
“All the papers have been sent in and he is available to be selected. Viana is an excellent player who will add real value to our team in the months ahead.”
There was movement at Viana’s former stomping ground as well, Ahli being able to reveal Morocco winger Oussama Assaidi this morning after his switch from Premier League outfit Liverpool was rubberstamped.
The 26-year-old agreed a £4.75 million (Dh26 million) move last Monday, a delegation of Red Knights officials travelling to Merseyside to negotiate the transfer they hope will breathe life into their faltering AGL title defence.
Meanwhile, Fujairah expect to be busy in the domestic market until it closes on February 12. The eastern emirate outfit have struggled upon their top-flight
return, sitting 11th in the middle of a group of three teams just three points above the relegation zone.
A change of the guard last month saw Abdulwahab Abdulqadir replaced by new coach Ivan Hasek.
This approach could be applied to the transfer market, though CEO Sultan Al Shara has insisted no plans are currently afoot to dispense with non-Emirati players Madjid Bougherra, Hassan Yebda, Hassan Maatouk and Boubacar Sanogo.
Al Ain's partnership with German side Eintracht Frankfurt is blossoming after Frankfurt's current visit to the Abu Dhabi. The Arbian Gulf League side are expected to train over in Europe in the summer.
Al Shabab coach Caio Junior is looking forward to a meeting with an old friend when the Hawks travel to Sharjah for their Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final clash.
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The Hawks supremo and Paulo Bonamigo were team-mates during their playing days at Brazilian giants Gremio during the mid-1980s. Junior, 49, was a youthful striker while his opposite number for Friday’s tie was tasked with supplying him from midfield.
They meet again in the UAE, the chance to fight for silverware on the line.
“I think it is interesting to have two Brazilian coaches at this stage of the competition,” Caio Junior said. “We are close friends, as we played together at Gremio many years ago.
“I don’t know how it will affect the game. I know about Bonamigo’s personality and ideas, and he knows about mine.
“But the most important thing is how the players perform on the field. We have to believe in our capacity to get to the final.”
Sharjah took top spot in Group B, a 94th-minute winner from Wanderley against Emirates Club in the final game securing home advantage in the last four. The striker is one of four Brazilians in the King ranks, a factor not lost on their countryman Caio Junior.
He said: “Sharjah individually pose a lot of threat, especially with Wanderley and Leo Lima. They are the core of the team.”
Caio Junior tasted success in his previous stint managing in the UAE, guiding Al Jazira to the President’s Cup in 2012. He was looking to create another lasting legacy at the Hawks.
“I believe to leave your mark in a club you coach you have to win titles,” he said. “There is a good chance of doing that at Al Shabab.
“We won the President’s Cup at Al Jazira, and I also claimed three titles at [Qatar’s] Al Gharafa. That is what I really want.”