DUBAI // Marcos Paqueta, the Al Shabab coach, is excited about his two new foreign players and is expecting big things from them in the coming season.
Shabab have brought in the Brazilian duo of Luiz Henrique and Edgar Bruno da Silva to replace Kieza, who failed to impress during his six months at the club, and the injured Carlos Villanueva, who is recovering from cruciate ligament surgery.
Henrique, 31, spent four seasons in South Korea and helped Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors win the K-League in 2009. The attacking midfielder topped the charts for assists in that season.
Edgar, 25, arrives from the Portuguese club Vitoria de Guimaraes, where he scored 21 goals in 58 matches over the past two seasons. The 6ft 3ins (1.91m) striker also scored five goals in seven games in the Portuguese Cup last year, helping his team reach the final, where they lost to Porto.
"Edgar has a distinct advantage with his height and tremendous physical strength," said Paqueta, who was named Shabab coach in June after Paulo Bonamigo terminated his contracted just three days after signing an extension.
"He also plays with a high fighting spirit and this is the sort of player our team needed. I believe he is a great addition to the squad.
"Henrique is a well-known player in Asia. He has played four seasons in the K-League and won the best player award last season. He has left a really positive footprint in South Korea and I hope he will be able to perform at the same level for Shabab."
Paqueta, who is returning to Shabab for a second time after spending a season here in 1988/89, has spent the past two months watching videos of Shabab's matches and planning his strategies for this season.
He returned earlier this week to take charge of the team's pre-season training and, after the Holy Month of Ramadan, he will be taking his players to Germany for an overseas camp.
"I now have enough information about the team," said Paqueta, who guided Brazil to the Under 17 and Under 20 World Cup triumphs in 2003.
"I now want to help these players reach their best possible levels and meet their own high ambitions. We want success as a team and we want to do well in the maximum number of tournaments possible."
Shabab finished third in the Pro League last season, behind Al Ain and Al Nasr.
Those two have also been forced to make two changes among their foreign ranks, but Nasr could be making a third as Mark Bresciano, their top-scorer last season, seems headed for Al Gharafa in Qatar.
Nasr have started sounding out possible replacements and Ali Fathollahzadeh, the chairman of the Iranian club Esteghlal, claims they have been made a formal approach for their midfielder Mojtaba Jabbari.
"If Amir Ghalenoei [the head coach of Esteghlal] accepts this transfer, then we have certain conditions to approve this deal," said Fathollahzadeh.
"If this offer was made by a Qatari club, we would definitely decline it because Qatar's league is not as perfect as UAE league.
Elsewhere, the Egyptian international Mahmoud Abdel Razek "Shikabala" is just hours away from being officially announced as Al Wasl's second foreign player for the season.
The club, who finished eighth in the Pro League last season, have retained only the services of the Argentine Mariano Donda.
A Wasl delegation is on its way to Egypt to finalise the one-year loan deal with Zamalek, according to Hazem Emam, a board member of the Egyptian club.
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