x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Pro League: Kalba and Dibba are stirring up the bottom after transfer activity

A little savvy in the recent transfer window appears to have instilled the two clubs with a bounty of belief.

Bilal Najjarine, left, has been a good buy for Dibba. Al Ittihad
Bilal Najjarine, left, has been a good buy for Dibba. Al Ittihad

Just as it seemed Dibba Al Fujairah and Kalba would go quietly into the night, the Pro League's bottom two clubs decided to cause the most unlikely of rackets.

Dibba produced the mightiest din. Rooted to the basement for most of the season, with only a pair of victories from their previous 15 league matches, Abdullah Misfir's team snuck into the home of the runaway leaders on Thursday and, without warning, rode off with the three points.

Al Ain, unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season, had been rampant in the weeks before. Yet a defence that had been breached 37 times this term somehow repelled an attack boasting 56 goals, and once the dust had settled it was Luiz Fernando's opportunistic strike that decided the outcome.

Only bottom beating top could claw the spotlight from Kalba. The east coast side had entertained Al Nasr earlier in the evening and, against common consensus, emerged 2-1 victors - their third win of a frustrating season.

So, although Kalba and Dibba remain 13th and 14th, they drew level on 10 points with Al Shaab and pulled Al Dhafra and Ajman, both five points better off, into the battle to escape the drop.

A little savvy in the recent transfer window appears to have instilled the two clubs with a bounty of belief. Since the final days of the open market, Dibba have taken two wins from three matches and been narrowly defeated by Shaab.

Kalba lost twice in that time, but made a title-chasing Baniyas sweat for victory, while Al Wahda were fortunate to register a 2-1 win. Granted, the capital club were reduced to 10 men for the majority of the game, but Kalba's defence, the leakiest in the league, has certainly portrayed a new-found tenacity.

Loan signings Ramadan Mohammed and Ali Mahmoud have helped add steel to Ze Mario's side, while Edward Sadomba sharpens their threat up front.

Dibba, too, spent wisely. Bilal Najjarine lead the line expertly against Al Ain, and Samuel Ocran brings a much-needed energy to their midfield.

Shaab, Dhafra and Ajman should be peering nervously over their shoulders. Shaab, though spirited last week against Baniyas, have lost six of seven, Dhafra have one victory since October and Ajman two wins from eight.

Each can claim to possess stronger squads than the division's two worst sides but, having surfaced from the hubbub of Round 17 with fresh ambition, Dibba and Kalba confirmed they will only be dragged down kicking and screaming.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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