DUBAI // Mahmoud Abdel Razek Shikabala has set his sights on winning trophies with Al Wasl after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Dubai club earlier in the week.
Wasl have signed the Egyptian midfielder from Zamalek in a US$1.25 million (Dh4.59m) loan deal and the 26 year old arrived in Dubai yesterday to a rousing welcome from the Zabeel club's Ultras. "I hope I can meet the expectations of the club's management and fans, and perform to the levels expected of me," Shikabala told reporters.
"I want to help the team achieve success and win trophies, and I believe the support of the fans and officials will help me in my objectives. Also, the presence of a large Egyptian community here and their support will definitely help me shine.
"I want to leave a good impression of Egyptian football and the repeat the success that Hosny Abd Rabo enjoyed with Al Ahli, when he won the league title and participated in the Fifa Club World Cup.
"I know my job will not be easy, but I will work hard to reach my best levels and help the team win every game and every championship. We have a coach [Bruno Metsu] who has a really impressive CV and I am looking forward to working with him.
A huge favourite of the fans back home at his Giza-based club, Shikabala has won two league titles with Zamalek, an Egyptian Cup, as well as the African Champions League and the Super Cup.
He was the Egyptian league's top scorer in the 2010/11 season and won the African Cup of Nations with his national team in 2010.
Shikabala, however, has a chequered disciplinary record and was frozen out of the Zamalek squad after a bust-up with coach Hassan Shehata in May following his substitution after an hour of the African Champions League match against Moroccan club Maghreb Fez.
Pitch-side TV cameras caught Shikabala telling the former Egypt manager, "I'm fed up with you. If you don't want me, let me go."
He was immediately suspended by the club after the incident and the episode also cost him a place in Egypt's squad for the London Olympic Games.
Shikabala has been linked with a move to a number of clubs since that incident, including Napoli and Udinese in Italy, Stuttgart of Germany, Romania's Vaslui, Qatar's Lekhwiya and Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia.
But the Egyptian picked Wasl because of their history and their fan base.
"Wasl are a top side and enjoy a great reputation as well as popularity," he said. "I know they are one of the most popular clubs in the UAE and they have a rich history, like Zamalek. Wasl are the Zamalek of the UAE and I feel at home here."
Mohammed bin Dukhan, the vice chairman of Al Wasl who travelled to Egypt to finalise the deal with Zamalek, has backed Shikabala to shine for his team and help the side bounce back from a disappointing season, when they finished eighth in the Pro League.
"We all know about his talents and abilities, and we believe he is going to be a great addition to the team," Bin Dukhan said.
"That is the reason for our insistence on getting the player. He has achieved a lot of success in his career and we expect him to play a big role for us in the new season."
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