Ajman made the biggest splashes on a quiet summer transfer deadline day in the Arabian Gulf League with their captures of forwards Bubacarr Trawally and Rashed Al Hajri.
Trawally, 24, joined the Orange Brigade after a short spell at Al Shabab included three goals in 11 Saudi Professional League run-outs. The Gambian replacement for unconvincing Nigerian forward Godwin Mensha had emerged as a talent of some repute after he scored 37 times in 83 Chinese Super League matches for Yanbian Funde and Guizhou Zhicheng from 2016-18.
Al Hajri, also 24, will be aiming to kick-start a once-promising career that stalled badly at Al Wasl. He made only one top-flight appearance in three seasons at Zabeel Stadium upon arrival from – now defunct – Al Shaab.
Elsewhere, promoted Khor Fakkan ditched Brazilian striker Pedro Junior, 32, from their four-player foreign quota and drafted in Uzbekistan international Temurkhuja Abdukholiqov, 28, from Lokomotiv Tashkent. In the domestic market, Bani Yas have wrestled 22-year-old forward Mohammed Al Hammadi from neighbours Al Wahda.
Junior had failed to find the back of the net in two AGL starts this term. Worries about a lack of goals from the Eagles saw them land a striker who also featured for Croatia’s Hadjuk Split and Qatar’s Al Sailiya.
Statistics released by the UAE Football Associations showed that 640 transfers, in the various categories for AGL and First Division League-outfits, were made from July 9-September 30. The 2020 winter transfer window will open on January 7 and close on February 3.
Round 2 of the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays.
Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado was at the heart of things when Sharjah kept up their 100-per-cent start away at floundering Ittihad Kalba, while Ivan Leko’s Al Ain struck three times, once again, in their emphatic win at Al Wasl. There was also an early goal-of-the-season contender from UAE midfielder Amer Abdulrahman in Al Jazira’s 3-2 derby loss at Al Wahda.
Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK – IGOR CORONADO (SHARJAH)
Some footballers operate on a different plane.
Coronado ran 30 yards, straight through a stacked Ittihad Kalba defence, to tee up Ricardo Gomes’ opener in a 3-1 win. This was a third assist in two AGL games.
Then came a thunderous 25-yard free-kick to send champions Sharjah on their way.
GOAL OF THE WEEK – AMER ABDULRAHMAN (AL JAZIRA)
It is a crime that a goal of this undeniable quality was rendered utterly inconsequential.
UAE midfielder Amer Abdulrahman produced one of the best volleys you’ll see this term, connecting perfectly with a looped clearance. Al Jazira, however, could not build on this staggering opener and lost 3-2 at Al Wahda.
COACH OF THE WEEK – IVAN LEKO (AL AIN)
After the chaos of the opening Kalba win, came the ominous control of the 3-1 victory at Al Wasl.
Al Ain had to fight back from going behind. But from there, Leko orchestrated a fine display.
His call to bring on goal-scorer Bandar Al Ahbabi was also inspired.
AMOORY’S WAITING GAME
Expectation levels are raised whenever Omar Abdulrahman is involved.
On the early evidence of 2019/20, however, these must be tempered.
Monday’s indifferent first start in almost a year after serious injury went without incident in the Arab Club Champions Cup. In Friday’s 3-2 derby defeat at Al Wahda, Al Jazira’s celebrated second-half substitute had just over 30 touches and did nothing with them.
We expect the world from Amoory. Now, what he most requires is patience.
Al Ain boss Ivan Leko has vowed he will hold nothing back during Thursday’s tantalising Arabian Gulf League meeting with Al Wasl.
Thrills abounded in last week’s opening top-flight weekend when the Boss required a 96th-minute winner to defeat lowly Ittihad Kalba 3-2. It was a different story for Wasl, who played out a goalless Bur Dubai derby with Al Nasr.
“Al Wasl has a number of highly skilled players and a good line of defence,” said ex-Croatia midfielder Leko, who joined in June from Club Brugge. “Confronting such clubs always motivates players to show their best.
“I always prefer the open style of play in football games, because it is the most exciting for fans, commentators, critics and media. Our goal is always to win.”
Injuries mean ex-Al Jazira midfielder Mohamed Jamal and €5.3 million former Al Wasl striker Caio Canedo will, again, be unavailable for the Boss.
Meanwhile, new striker Ricardo Gomes has warned Kalba he is determined to “make history” at champions Sharjah.
Gomes, 27, has four goals in five appearances since a €3m summer move from Partizan Belgrade. The Tigers – who are on a 14-match AGL winless run – are next in the Cape Verde international’s sights.
He said: “Goals give motivation and confidence no matter the opponent. I am here to make history and I want to score many goals.”
Friday’s highlights from round two include an Abu Dhabi derby between Al Wahda and Jazira.
The hosts must rebound from a pitiful 1-0 defeat at Fujairah, while the Pride of Abu Dhabi should hand a first top-flight start to returned UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman.
Pointless promoted sides Khor Fakkan and Hatta meet on the same night.
ROUND TWO FIXTURES
18:30 Ittihad Kalba v Sharjah
18:30 Al Dhafra v Bani Yas
21:15 Ajman v Al Nasr
21:15 Al Wasl v Al Ain
18:30 Shabab Al Ahli v Fujairah
18:30 Khor Fakkan v Hatta
21:15 Al Wahda v Al Jazira