DUBAI // Al Wasl have made their first move in the winter transfer window, bringing in Achille Emana to replace the injured Argentine Mariano Donda.
Emana, 30, who signed a three-year deal with Al Ahli last July, comes on a loan deal that will keep the Cameroonian international at the Zabeel Stadium till the end of the season.
He became surplus to requirements at the Rashid Stadium earlier this month after Ahli signed an 18-month contract with the Portuguese national Ricardo Quaresma.
Wasl, who are struggling at eighth in the Pro League standings, have been looking to replace Donda after medical tests confirmed he will need surgery on a knee injury that has blighted his season.
Emana, who scored four league goals for Ahli, became their prime target as soon as Ahli announced their Quaresma deal.
Wasl also are looking to replace their Asian player, the Australian defender Lucas Neill.
Wasl's season, which started promisingly with Bruno Metsu at the helm, has been on a downwards spiral since the former Al Ain and UAE boss was forced to step down due to illness.
His replacement, the Frenchman Guy Lacombe, has failed to arrest the slide, hampered by injuries to key players like Donda and Shikabala. The club has suffered five consecutive defeats.
They have also been missing Rashid Essa since the midfielder limped out of their Pro League game against Al Shaab on December 11.
Essa, 22, missed the Gulf Cup because of that cruciate ligament injury, and will travel to Germany for a surgery scheduled for February 7.
Some Wasl supporters have expressed their unhappiness over the delay in scheduling Essa's surgery and accused the club of "negligence" in the club's electronic fan forum, but a spokesman denied those charges.
"Since he picked up the injury, Essa has undergone a number of tests to determine the need for surgery," he said.
"As soon as we received that advice, we got in touch with the German doctor and the earliest date we received for the surgery is February 7.
"So there has been no negligence and the club's medical team has been taking good care of him."
Essa has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, which means he will not be among the players Mahdi Ali calls up for the UAE's 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers against Vietnam.
The senior side, who won the Gulf Cup in Bahrain on Friday by defeating Iraq in the final, will assemble on Monday before they leave for the Chinese city of Guangzhou, where they will camp till they travel to Hanoi for the February 6 match against Vietnam.
The UAE Football Association had received a request from Russia to play a friendly match on that day, but they have turned it down.
The Russians were impressed by UAE's performance at the Gulf Cup and were keen to play against Mahdi Ali's men on February 6, which is a Fifa match day.
However, the Asian Football Confederation have scheduled the Asian Cup qualifiers on these days, which means countries will not be available for friendly matches.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE