Real Ruben Ribeiro is ravishing to earn Roger Dubuis Al Ain Player of the Day

Matt Jones - Editor 00:45 16/05/2019
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Khalid Al Baloushi got on the scoresheet for Al Ain.

Al Ain’s miserable season is at least meandering to a happy conclusion as they thrashed Al Wasl 5-1 to halt the Cheetahs’ four-match unbeaten run.

The Dubai side had inflicted a maiden Arabian Gulf League defeat on leaders Sharjah last time out, but had no answer to a rampant start from the Boss – who were 2-0 up inside six minutes and 4-0 ahead by 27. It was 5-0 at the break with the visitors netting a late consolation through Nasser Noor.

We were spoilt for choice as to who received the man of the match award. We chose Ruben Ribeiro.

30-second report

Okay, where on earth did this performance come from? Eight games without a win between a narrow 2-1 triumph over Fujairah and 2-0 defeat of rock-bottom Dibba last time out had been pockmarked by five defeats and 21 goals conceded, against seven scored.

Five came in one game though as the Boss blitzed in-form Wasl on Wednesday. They opened the scoring after two minutes with Ribeiro calmly rolling in a penalty after he was fouled inside the opening 60 seconds.

Egyptian midfielder Yahia Nader, 20, then nodded in Caio’s corner unchallenged before Ribeiro and Caio combined to tee up another 20-year-old, Falah Waleed, to steer home a third. Caio then stroked home a free-kick and a third goalscorer aged 20 then made it 5-0 before the break as Khalid Al Baloushi swept home Tsukasa Shiotani’s centre.

1605 player of day

Got right – Making the difference

Finally, the real Ribeiro has finally arrived in UAE football. Well, we hope so, and that the facade of a footballer who’s played previously this season was an imposter.

The 31-year-old former Sporting Lisbon schemer was the lynchpin for a quite brilliant win for the Boss – kick-started by his winning of a first-minute penalty. He converted coolly before playing an inch-perfect pass into the path of youngster Waleed, a goal that essentially killed the game off.

Got wrong – Where has he been up to now?

Just a second goal in 12 appearances. Not good enough in a season that’s generally been, well, not good enough for Al Ain. It’s been a strange campaign for the Boss, who’ve plummeted since the turn of the year, with their star men more guilty than most of letting them down.

Ribeiro is hardly the only one, as veteran Sweden striker Marcus Berg has been off colour and Brazilian winger Caio has been quiet.

Is all forgiven now following one good performance and one mammoth win? Maybe not, but it’s a start.


It’s safe to say that there was a burden of expectation on Ribeiro’s shoulders as he was essentially bought as a replacement for the dearly departed Hussein El Shahat. You could say that burden was too great for the Portuguese forward, or you could just tell it like it is, and admit he simply hasn’t been very good.

His own woes have masked those of his club but, perhaps, if he sticks around, this is a sign of things to come for next season.


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