x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Jazira bank on new signings in opener against Al Wahda

Al Jazira's record Brazilian purchase Rafael Sobis is expected to hog the spotlight when he makes his Pro League debut.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira's record Brazilian purchase Rafael Sobis is expected to hog the spotlight when he makes his Pro League debut in tomorrow night's derby match with Al Wahda at the Al Nahyan stadium. Sobis, who moved from the Spanish League side Real Betis for a record Dh65million, will spearhead Jazira's attack with the club's two other new signings, compatriots Marcio Rozario and Fernando Biano.

Jazira secured their best finish in the league last season when taking second spot behind Al Shabab, the title decided on the final night of the Etisalat League. They are now determined to go one step ahead and claim an illusive league title. To achieve that, they have made some bold moves. They signed the Brazilian coach Abel Braga and strengthened the midfield by signing the UAE internationals Subait Khater and Helal Saeed from Al Ain.

The team with those five names looks formidable on paper. Saleh Obaid, the national team's left wing attack, captains the side that also include his national squad teammate Ahmed Dada and Abdulsalam Jumaa, who moved from Wahda last season. The UAE international Rashid Abdulrahman will man the last line of defence. Wahda's iconic forward Ismail Matar remains the one to trouble the opposition with last season's Brazilian imports Alecsandro Barbosa and Pinga and the UAE's Player of the Year, Mohammed al Shehhi. The defence is strengthened by the Moroccan Mourad Ainy, who joins Basheer Saeed to complement the team's strong midfield led by the national team captain Abdulraheem Jumaa, Haider Ali, Abdulla Noobi and Fahad Masoud.

Al Shabab begin their title defence with a home clash with Al Shaab. Toninho Cerezo's men are out to make amends after they lost the Super Cup in the season's opener last week. apassela@thenational.ae