x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Jazira new signing Mirko Vucinic already ‘feels right at home’

Mirko Vucinic, Al Jazira’s new signing from Italian giant Juventus, is looking forward to the challenge of playing outside Europe for the first time in his career, writes Amith Passela.

Al Jazira’s new signing Mirko Vucinic, left, with team official Ayedh Mabkhout Al Hajeri. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National
Al Jazira’s new signing Mirko Vucinic, left, with team official Ayedh Mabkhout Al Hajeri. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Mirko Vucinic, Al Jazira’s new signing from Italian giant Juventus, is looking forward to the challenge of playing outside Europe for the first time in his career.

“It is a new experience and a new mentality playing in a new league,” the Montenegro international said when he was officially introduced to the press at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium last night.

“I got to know of the Jazira offer through my agent. I thought it was a pretty good deal and I’m certainly looking forward to give the best to my new club and helping them in winning trophies.

“I was given a very warm welcome from the club management and everyone here has treated me very well. The players and the technical staff have been very friendly. I already feel at home.”

Read more: How Al Jazira’s good grace in 2011 changed Alejandro Sabella’s career and Argentina’s destiny

Vucinic signed a three-year contract with the 2010/11 league champions, who will be coached by Belgian Eric Gerets next ­season.

“I will turn 31 in October and that’s not too old for a football player, I am not thinking beyond my playing career at the moment,” said Vucinic, when asked if he was planning to spend the rest of his playing career in the Arabian Gulf.

“The UAE league I have learnt is at a good level and improving all the time.

“There are several top class players from around the world plying their trade in this region.

“If I am successful as a player and if the atmosphere is good for me and my family, why not.”

Ayedh Mabkhout, the team manager, said Vucinic was one of the few players in the Arabian Gulf League who has experience of winning multiple titles with his previous clubs.

“We were negotiating with several agents and players in the past one month and the new coach Eric Gerets, whom we consult on all football matters, gave us his approval when Vucinic’s name came up,” he said.

Mabkhout also said the club had made no progress in their bid to sign Mohanad Salem, the Al Ain centre-back, and that Jazira are also trying to come to an amicable settlement with Felipe Caicedo so that the Ecuadorean international, signed in January, would be free to find another club.

“As for the signings of players, we are almost done,” he said. “We may or may not be able to sign any local players but we will continue to negotiate with players who are still in the transfer market.”

Jazira’s foreign quartet is at least complete. Vucinic has been joined by Jonathan Pitroipa, the Burkina Faso international forward.

Jazira retained Abdelaziz Barrada, the Moroccan international midfielder, from their summer signings in 2013.

They signed Caicedo and Jucilei da Silva, both from Anzhi Makhachkala in the midseason transfer window.

Jucilei will be registered as the club’s Asian player for 2014/15, after he obtained a Palestinian passport.

apassela@thenational.ae

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