Surprise champions Sharjah crowned a season of success by justly dominating Friday night’s 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League Awards.
Abdulaziz Al Anbari was predictably named Best Coach at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah after he oversaw a shock end of the King’s 23-year top-flight title drought. In the process, he became the first Emirati to claim the gong.
Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado’s 17 goals and nine assists was rewarded with the Best Foreign Player trophy at the glittering ceremony, while Adel Al Hosani took home the Best Goalkeeper prize.
The highest honour of the evening, however, was earned by new Best Emirati Player, Al Jazira conductor Khalfan Mubarak. Al Wasl teenager Ali Saleh was chosen as Best Young Player.
Golden Boy – Best Young Player: Ali Saleh (Al Wasl)
The Leader – Best Coach: Abdulaziz Al Anbari (Sharjah)
Golden Glove – Best Goalkeeper: Adel Al Hosani (Sharjah)
The Golden Ball – Best Foreign Player: Igor Coronado (Sharjah)
The Golden Ball – Best Emirati Player: Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira)
All eyes of UAE football fans will be on the Joharah ballroom at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai starting on Friday night, May 17, as the UAE Pro League celebrates stars of the 2018/19 season at the Arabian Gulf League Awards ceremony.
This year’s event is the seventh edition of the glamorous gala which was introduced at the end of the 2012/13 season and went from strength to strength with new award categories added every year, including awards for players, coaches, clubs, fans and Fantasy Arabian Gulf League managers.
The additions continued this season with the introduction of the ‘Best Digital Sport Platform’ which aims to encourage websites, blogs and social media pages that cover the UAE Pro League competitions and play an important role in promoting the Arabian Gulf League through their content.
The UAE Pro League has also introduced a ‘Goal of The Year’ award, with three goals contesting its inaugural edition after more than 10,000 fans voted on the AGL social media pages between May 5-8.
The ‘Goal of The Year’ award is one of eight vote-based categories alongside: the Golden Ball Award for Best Emirati Player; Golden Ball for Best Foreign Player; the Leader Award for Best Coach; the Golden Glove Award for Best Goalkeeper; the Golden Boy Award for Best Young Player; Fans’ Player of The Year Award; Best Digital Sport Platform Award and the Goal of The Year Award.
Winners in six other categories are decided based on stats, these include: Dream Team, Golden Shoe Award for the Arabian Gulf League Top Scorer, the Silver Shoe for the Arabian Gulf League U21 Top Scorer, the Fantasy Arabian Gulf League Manager of the Year, Club Licensing Award and the Online Content Award.
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.
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.
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.