AGL clubs chase Syria star Omar Khrbin and Ecuador's Juan Agangono assesses options

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Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, champions Sharjah and former club Al Dhafra are in the chase to bring 2017 AFC Player of the Year Omar Khrbin back to the Arabian Gulf League, according to reports.

Khrbin, 25, proved a revelation at the Western Knights from January 2016-January 2017. His 16 goals in 25 top-flight games there convinced Al Hilal to invest more than Dh40 million in him, though after initial success with the Saudi Arabia giants he spent the second half of last term on loan at big-spending Egyptian upstarts Pyramids FC.

Al Roeya newspaper has stated that the trio of UAE outfits are now determining whether to meet the prolific Syria forwards Dh1m-per-month wage demands. He has two years left on his Crescent contract.

Meanwhile, Ecuador centre forward Juan Agangono is assessing whether to pursue interest from the Middle East.

Agangono, 30, has proven a hulking presence up top for clubs such as L.D.U Quito, Chicago Fire and Barcelona SC. He has received several approaches from other leading sides in his native country, but could be tempted to experience the AGL if the right offer is made.

The three-times-capped international has struck 29 times in 84 top-flight matches in his second stint at L.D.U.

“We’ll evaluate all the offers we receive and choose the best option for Juan and his family,” said agent Julio Tymczyszyn.

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Al Jazira appoint their fourth-successive Dutch coach in Jurgen Streppel

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Al Jazira’s avowed faith in Dutch football has continued with the appointment of their fourth-successive coach from the country in Jurgen Streppel.

Streppel, 49, has inked a one-year extendable contract with the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League’s fifth-placed side and will join up with his new employers in the capital next month, before a three-week training camp in the Netherlands. He has replaced compatriot Damien Hertog in the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium’s hot seat.

The new incumbent finished an unremarkable seventh in last term’s Cypriot First Division with Anorthosis Famagusta. But he eased €75 million Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong into the first team at Willem II from 2011-16 and subsequently worked with Real Madrid wonder kid Martin Odegaard at Heerenveen, with this track record of developing youngsters providing appeal.

CEO Ayed Mabkhout said: “We have decided to continue relying on the Dutch football school because we wanted to strengthen the technical stability of the team. During the last few years, the Dutch philosophy has proved that it suits our players in the first team and academy.

“It has also proved to be successful as the team performance has developed significantly and that more players from Al Jazira have been joining the UAE national teams.

“Streppel has all the qualities it takes to manage the first team during the next season and we are confident that he can help our players to be better, on and off the field.”

Streppel will look to continue the fine work of countrymen Marcel Keizer and Henk ten Cate.

Veteran Ten Cate, 64, eased shock relegation worries upon arrival in December 2015, won that campaign’s President’s Cup and staggeringly claimed the 2016/17 AGL crown.

Successor Keizer, 50, impressed so much that Portuguese heavyweights Sporting Lisbon poached him during November 2018, after only five months at the helm.

Hertog, 45, was promoted from caretaker last December. But a failure to make the 2020 AFC Champions League meant change was sought.

An unremarkable playing career as an attacking midfielder for Streppel ended in 2005, at Helmond Sport. He then worked his way up to head coach at the Eerste Divisie-outfit three years later.

Significant churn to the four-player foreign quota and the loss of key midfielder Mohamed Jamal now present early challenges.

A familiar face, however, will be present at neighbours Al Wahda. They hired Maurice Steijn from VVV-Venlo earlier this month.

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Former Rangers and Algeria captain Madjid Bougherra returns to AGL side Fujairah as coach

Matt Jones 16/06/2019
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Former Rangers and Algeria captain Madjid Bougherra has been named as new coach of Arabian Gulf League outfit Fujairah.

The Wolves, who stayed in the UAE top-flight by the skin of their teeth last season, have turned to their former player to replace ex-UAE boss Dr Abdullah Mesfer, who had originally guided them into the AGL last term following a narrow promotion play-off triumph against Hatta.

Mesfer eventually replaced Argentina legend Diego Maradona last April following a hasty decision to sack the former Napoli and Barcelona player within hours of April 28’s failure to gain automatic promotion. Mesfer did then steer Fujairah back into the AGL, but was himself replaced by ex-Czech Republic, Al Ahli and Emirates Club boss Ivan Hasek – who returned to Fujairah Stadium for a second spell – in May.

Mesfer again answered the Wolves’ coaching call when Hasek failed to see out the 2018/19 season, which ended with a 3-1 final day triumph over Shabab Al Ahli Dubai that secured their survival and sent Emirates Club down.

The 36-year-old Bougherra will now take over on a permanent basis, with the club revealing the news on their Twitter feed.

Bougherra won 70 caps and scored four goals for Les Fennecs between 2004-15 and participated at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He floated around England with Crewe, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic for much of his career, having started out with Ligue 2 side Gueugnon  in France, before winning three straight Scottish Premier League titles with Rangers from 2008-11.

He moved to Qatar’s Lekhwiya at the end of that season, before spending two seasons with Fujairah from 2014-2016.

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