x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Nasr switch for Italian striker

Coach Walter Zenga finds replacement for Luca Toni as Giuseppe Mascara gets one-year deal.

Giuseppe Mascara will likely leave Novara Calcio for Dubai side Al Nasr. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images
Giuseppe Mascara will likely leave Novara Calcio for Dubai side Al Nasr. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images

Giuseppe Mascara is set to replace Luca Toni at Al Nasr after the Italian striker passed his medical today, and the Al Wasl fan favourite Alexandre Oliveira will return to the UAE with Al Dhafra.

Nasr had turned their attention to Mascara after Fabrizio Miccoli decided to stay on with Palermo. Mascara is expected to get a one-year deal, but club officials would not confirm his signing.

Walter Zenga, the Nasr coach, identified Mascara, 32, as a target during his scouting mission in Italy earlier this month.

Mascara enjoyed his best season in Seria A football in 2008/09, scoring 15 goals for Catania while Zenga was the coach there.

Mascara has one cap for Italy. He spent the second half of last season at Novara, scoring three goals in 14 games, and in 2011 played 21 matches for Napoli.

Khalid Obaid, the team manager, confirmed that Nasr had signed the goalkeeper Bilal Ramadan from Fujairah. Their young gloveman, Ahmed Mohammed Shambieh, could miss as much as five months of the next season on national duty with the youth team.

Oliveira, the 33-year-old Brazilian, scored 43 goals in six seasons with Wasl. He arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday for medical tests and is expected to be Dhafra's third foreign player for next season, alongside compatriot Pinga and Makita Diop of Senegal.

Oliveira, who played for the Brazilian clubs Botafogo and Londrina since leaving Wasl after the 2010/11 season, is the latest in a flurry of new signings announced by Dhafra as they plot a return to the 14-team Pro League through September's four-team play-offs.

Two days earlier, the Western Region club announced a one-year deal with the former UAE captain and Al Jazira veteran Abdul Salaam Juma, and a two-year deal with the former UAE and Al Ahli defender Mohammed Qassim.

Dhafra will host a tournament from August 8 to 16 to prepare for the play-offs. The Egyptian club Ismaily, Al Faisaly of Jordan and Sudan's Mars (Al Merrikh) are expected to participate in the event.

Dhafra's new coach, Jamal Haji, a former Yugoslav international, is likely to arrive next week. On July 5, Dhafra will leave for Nuremberg, Germany, for a two-week camp.

Elsewhere, Al Ahli and Sharjah seem to have agreed on a deal for Abdulaziz Sanqour. The Olympic team defender will sign with the Dubai club, while six Ahli players will move in the opposite direction on a one-year loan.

Sharjah are trying to put together a fresh side, under the new coach Faouzi Benzarti, ahead of the relegation play-offs.

According to sources, the six players Ahli are willing to send to Sharjah are the goalkeeper Mohammed Yousuf; the defenders Salmeen Khamis, Bader Abdulrahman and Obaid Khalifa; and the midfielders Ali Hussain and Ahmed Khamis.

Ajman have announced the Iraq international Karrar Jassim as their Asian player for the next season. The 24-year-old midfielder, who has 46 international caps and played for the Iran side Esteghlal last season, is the second foreign signing for Ajman, after the Mali international Founeke Sy, for next season. The club have retained the Algerian Karim Kerkar.

Al Wahda have promoted their 18-year-old striker Badr Al Harethi to the professional ranks with a three-year contract. Khamis Ali Al Zaabi, 19, will also enjoy professional status next season after getting a five-year deal from the club.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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