Al Ain star Caio Canedo not gunning for 'anyone’s place' ahead of seismic UAE bow

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Caio Canedo (UAE Pro League).

Grateful new UAE star Caio Canedo has declared he is not gunning for “anyone’s place” ahead of March’s expected landmark debut.

A seismic announcement was made this week when it was revealed that Al Ain attacker Canedo, 29, and Al Wahda centre forward Sebastian Tagliabue, 34, had gained Emirati citizenship. The South American pair – Canedo is from Brazil, Tagliabue was born in Argentina – are now set for debut call-ups to Ivan Jovanovic’s squad for the pressurised World Cup 2022 qualifying double-header versus Malaysia and Indonesia.

The duo will offer stern competition to the likes of Ali Mabkhout, Omar Abdulrahman, Ali Saleh, Khalil Ibrahim, Ahmed Khalil and Khalfan Mubarak. Speaking to Sport360 late last month ahead of the long-rumoured development, an appreciative Canedo just wanted to begin “giving back to the country for everything they give to me”.

“I don’t want to take nobody’s place,” said the forward, who initially joined Al Wasl on loan from Internacional in September 2014. “I respect all the players that have been there, I know all the players.

“They are very good players, very good guys. Very professional.

“I cheer so much for the national team. Any cup they enter in, qualification to the World Cup, I hope and want to see [them do well]…

“It is good for the country and good for the competitions here. I am here, cheering for them, if I’m with them or not.

“If it does happen, it’ll be something for me giving back to the country for everything they give to me.

“Again, I don’t want to take anyone’s place. I just want to help – and I think I can help a lot.”

FIFA rules that allow residency to be granted after five years, plus domestic changes sparked by Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s historic Presidential decree in November 2017, have combined to allow expatriates to naturalise and represent the national team.

Canedo has excelled in the Arabian Gulf League during his five+ years there, netting 71 times in 122 appearances. The Volta Redonda-native has also welcomed a daughter this winter.

He said: “It is everything. The UAE gave me and my family everything.

“Before in Brazil, it was good, I played for top clubs. I also had a good life.

“But UAE helped me gain so much stuff. It gave a better life to my father, my mum, my wife…

“Today, I have a very comfortable life. I am very thankful to the UAE for everything, for everything.

“All I have for the UAE is love, you know. I hope, one day, I can give something back to the country.”

The Whites are fourth in Group G for the second round of World Cup qualifying. Only top spot guarantees progression to the next stage, with the four-best runners-up in the AFC process also advancing.

From family strife in the USA to UAE stardom, check out Al Ain forward Caio Canedo’s remarkable story

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