Al Ain‘s new forward Caio Canedo admits it hasn’t been hard settling in to his new surroundings at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium – after all he’s played there enough times over the last five years.
The diminutive Brazilian swapped the Cheetahs for the Boss this summer – leaving Al Wasl but not the Arabian Gulf League as he signed for Al Ain in a lucrative €5.3 million deal.
It was a real coup for the Boss, who struggled to a fourth-placed finish last year, capitulating in 2019 after peaking with an appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup final in December, where they lost 4-1 to European heavyweights Real Madrid.
But Canedo, 29, heads an impressive summer recruitment drive in the Garden City. The Rio de Janeiro native has been joined by Algerian winger Abderrahmane Meziane, Togo forward Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba and Emirati midfielders Mohamed Jamal and Mohammed Helal.
And Canedo admits he already feels part of the family. “I have a sincere sense of being at home,” said the Brazilian, who speaks perfect English with an American accent having grown up in Massachusetts.
“I spent five years in the country with Al Wasl and experienced a large number of foreigners.
“By my nature, I like to make friends with players and prepare myself socially and I have never had any difficulty in coping quickly with getting to know my team-mates, especially since I am fluent in English, which helps the foreign players a lot in coexisting.
“With the other new arrivals I have begun to learn about the style of each player and the way he plays.”
Caio has proven both a prolific scorer and creator of goals during his five years with the Cheetahs. After arriving in Dubai, on loan initially from Internacional in his homeland in 2014/15, he has rocketed in 66 goals in just 113 AGL games.
He formed a deadly duo with compatriot Fabio De Lima in that time, although their connection failed to yield any silverware. An AGL runners-up spot was achieved in 2016/17, with the same fate befalling them in the 2018 President’s Cup. Wasl’s first appearances in the AFC Champions League in a decade, meanwhile, ended in timid group stage exits both this and last year.
Few foreign players stay at one club in the Middle East as long as Caio. So fewer still will begrudge his decision to move on. And he is determined to catch up on lost time by lifting silverware with his new club.
“We are very proud of being a great club and I will work to achieve goals and we will fight together to win titles,” added Caio, who joined Internacional in 2013 following Taison’s move to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Speaking about his new Croatian coach, Ivan Leko, he added: “I admire his thinking, his style and his way of dealing with everyone, which motivates us to implement his plans accurately.
“I think the pre-season camp has been excellent. It is an important period to strengthen the relationship between team-mates.”
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