AGL Awards: Ali Mabkhout named league’s top Emirati player in big night for Al Jazira
ABU DHABI // Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout dedicated his Emirati Player of the Year award on Monday night to his teammates and manager Henk ten Cate.
The UAE forward, 26, was crowned the Arabian Gulf League’s outstanding local at the division’s 2016/17 awards, which took place at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
Mabkhout was the overwhelming favourite for the crown having scored 33 league goals to fire Jazira to their first UAE championship in six years. His haul ensured he concluded the campaign as the league’s top scorer, while it also set a new professional-era record for goals in a single season. The previous mark was 31.
“I am very happy to win this award,” said Mabkhout, who reclaimed the award after winning it for the 2014/15 season. “But I won it only because all my teammates and coach worked together this season.”
Mabkhout headed a night of significant recognition for Jazira, who also picked up awards for best goalkeeper (Ali Khaseif) and best young player (Khalfan Mubarak), while four of their players — Mabkhout, Salim Rashid, Mohammed Fawzi and Fares Juma — were included in the league’s team of the season.
The greatest shock of the night, though, came in the best manager category, where Ten Cate lost out to Al Ahli’s Cosmin Olaroiu. The Romanian, already a two-time recipient of the award, was recognised for guiding Ahli to both the Super Cup and the Arabian Gulf Cup.
However, given Ten Cate masterminded Jazira’s march to only a second UAE top-flight crown, Mabkhout felt his manager was more deserving of the prize. Particularly, Mabkhout said, because Jazira broke a number of professional-era records this season, including most wins (22) and most points (68).
“I am upset because I think Henk ten Cate deserved to win the [best manager] award because he is the best coach,” Mabkhout said. “But this is not to say that Cosmin is not a great coach. However, this season Ten Cate won the league and Al Jazira broke the record.”
The evening’s other major award went to Fabio de Lima as the Al Wasl forward was named the league’s best foreign player. The Brazilian finished runner-up to Mabkhout in the scoring charts, notching 25 times as Wasl came home second in the table, their best result in the professional era.
“I’m very happy,” said De Lima, who had particular praise for manager Rodolfo Arruabarrena, in the Argentine’s first season at the club. “This is very important for my career. I say thank you to my colleagues, to my coach, to the club’s staff. It’s not possible without my team helping me. But I’m very happy to be here. Inshallah next season will continue the same.”
Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira)
Best foreign player
Fabio de Lima (Al Wasl)
Cosmin Olaroiu (Al Ahli)
Best young player
Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira)
Ali Kasheif (Al Jazira)
The Golden Shoe Award
Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira)
The Silver Shoe Award
Ahmed Al Attas (Al Jazira)
• GK: Ali Kasheif (Al Jazira)
• DEF: Mohammed Fawzi, Fares Juma (Al Jazira), Ismail Ahmed (Al Ain)
• MID: Salim Rashid, Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira), Tariq Ahmed (Al Nasr), Omar Abdulrahman (Al Ain), Fabio De Lima (Al Wasl)
• STR: Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira), Makhete Diop (Al Ahli)
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