Job one for executives in the Pro League, and throughout Asia for that matter: make certain you get your foreign signings right.
Clubs who get little or nothing from their imports will be hard-pressed to succeed, given the dependence they have on expatriates to score goals.
Five rounds from the end of the season is a good time to evaluate how the 12 Pro League clubs have done this term.
• Al Ahli: Fabio Cannavaro got a ton of attention and money, but a central defender rarely makes a Pro League club better, and the Italian hasn't. Pinga scored goals early but cooled. Aristide Bance was a flamboyant failure and was replaced by the defensive midfielder Karim el Ahmadi, a good player but not a scorer. Grade: D-
• Al Ain: Summer defections by two key foreigners left the club scrambling. They got seven goals from Jose Sand before the break, then replaced him with Elias Ribeiro, a better athlete and lesser scorer. Ibrahim Keita is a defensive midfielder, and the third slot has yielded almost nothing. Grade: D
• Al Dhafra: With 10 league goals, Boris Kabi is a major success. Abass Lawal is an attacker who rarely finishes. Losing their playmaker Mohammed Berrabeh early hurt. Grade: C-
• Al Jazira: The runaway leaders fixed their foreigner situation on the fly, and their current trio of Bare, Ricardo Oliveira and Matias Delgado are scary. However, the club carried Toni far too long before replacing him with Oliveira and Delgado needed half a season to regain his form. This is the only side in the league who have more goals from Emiratis (28) than foreigners (19). Grade: B+
• Al Nasr: Ismail Bangoura has been an elite scorer from the start and Leonardo Lima has been effective in midfield despite scoring only twice. The club swapped Carlos Tenorio for Rodrigo Vergilio; between them they had nine goals. Collectively, the foreigners have 21 of the club's 25 goals. Grade: A-
• Al Shabab: Carlos Villanueva, the playmaker and sniper, and Julio Cesar have been imposing since Round 1. When the club replaced Lamine Diarra with the dynamic Ciel, in January, they created the league's most influential foreign contingent. Grade: A
• Al Wahda: The club spent one slot on a defensive midfielder, Magrao, and quickly replaced Modibo Diarra, with Hugo, a solid player but not a prolific scorer. Fernando Baiano, 32, has not been fit this season and his depressed goals total (nine) shows it. Grade: C
• Al Wasl: The cagey and relentless Francisco Yeste is the foreign signing of the season; Alexandre Oliveira is not the force he was but remains dangerous. Using the third slot on the clumsy Omani defender Mohammed Abdullah was the main mistake here. Grade: B
• Baniyas: Andre Senghor is a scoring machine; he leads the league with 15 goals and would have more had not the club's midfield been lost to injury for two months. The Omani Fawzi Basheer has six league goals. Replacing the Brazilian defender Eder with the Iraqi forward Mustafa Kareem was a good call. Grade: B+
• Dubai: Attackers Michael N'dri and Abubaker Camara have been competent all along, but the third slot has been something of a black hole, between Rachid Tiberkanin and Josemar dos Santos. Grade: C
• Kalba: Gregory Dufrennes and Simon Feinduono are the cutting edge in attack, but the club's defence is so porous that a veteran centre-back might have been a better idea than the marginally productive forward Elias de Oliveira. Grade: C-
• Sharjah: Marcelo Oliveira has been a useful forward, but with Robert Brito Luciano hurt for most of the season the central defender Gustavo Lazzaretti became a non-scoring luxury. No team has scored fewer goals (21) and none has fewer goals (11) from foreigners. Grade: D