x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Enticing shake-up on cards at the bottom of Pro League

As soon as the January transfer window opens, club officials will be in the market with their chequebooks.

Karim Kerkar has been a good signing in the past for Ajman but has missed most of the season to injury.
Karim Kerkar has been a good signing in the past for Ajman but has missed most of the season to injury.

The coming month promises to be a busy one at Pro League clubs, especially those in the bottom half of the points table.

As soon as the January transfer window opens, club officials will be in the market with their chequebooks, scouring through dozens of CVs and videos to find personnel - both Emirati and foreigners - who could help in the battle to save their season.

The bottom-placed Dibba Al Fujairah, who have already replaced their coach once in the first half of the season, could release all four of their foreign players: the Brazilians Junior, Luiz Fernando and Alex and Abdul Razak Al Hussain of Syria.

Kalba have dismissed two coaches since the start of the season, but still have only seven points from 13 league matches, three more than Dibba.

When the league resumes on January 21, they might have two new foreign players as well after deciding to dispense with the services of the Moroccans Nabil Daoudi and Ahmed Jahouh.

Jahouh has certainly failed to impress and Daoudi has scored six goals in the nine matches he has played. But the striker is injury prone and Kalba, given their situation, desperately need someone who can play more regularly. They also need a lot more goals. Among the 14 Pro League teams, they have scored the fewest (11) and conceded the most (45).

Al Shaab have had no problems in getting goals. Rodrigo Virgilio (nine), Michael N'Dri (six) and Rodrigo Souza Silva (three) have worked well together, but the promoted side have been woeful in defence.

Twice they have lost after taking a 2-0 lead - against Al Jazira and Al Wasl - and Sergio, who was dismissed as their coach after round 13, urged the club management in his parting speech to strengthen the backline and get a more reliable goalkeeper.

Ajman will also be in the market to fill at least two vacancies. The club, who are 10th in the points table, have decided to cut their ties with the Iraqi Karrar Jassim and Abdessamad Ouhaki of Morocco.

Karim Kerkar, an influential playmaker for them in the previous season, will also not be returning to the team after terminating his contract through "mutual consent".

The Algerian could be moving to one of the other Pro League teams while the Argentine German Herrera might be heading to the top flight.

Emirates have received several offers for the striker, who arrived amid much fanfare at the Ras Al Khaimah club in the summer but failed to help them gain promotion through the play-offs.

Elsewhere, Marcelo Oliveira will be returning to Sharjah after failing to impress at Al Wahda, where the Gabon striker Eric Mouloungui will be back after missing the first half through injury. Wahda might also be looking for an Asian player to replace the defender Mohammed Al Shaibah, who was injured while playing for Oman. He has yet to see the pitch for Wahda.

Baniyas are also looking to replace their Asian player. The Australian Nick Carle started well but has been unproductive of late, and the decorated Uzbek captain Server Djeparov is one of the targets. If the former Asian Player of the Year says yes, it would be another feather in the cap for the Pro League.

Carlos Villanueva should be back at Al Shabab after recovering from knee surgery. The news is not as good at Al Wasl, though. The club are seeking medical advice on Mariano Donda's knee injury and club sources fear the Argentine might not be able to return to his previous levels because "psychologically he fears getting injured again".

If that does happen, fans will certainly miss Donda, but with all the changes in the pipeline, the league could be heading for an exciting and tougher second half.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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