x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Shabab to shake up their foreign legion

The misfiring Brazilian Kieza and the unhappy Azizbek Haydarov will leave the Dubai club at the end of the season as they begin the search for new foreign players.

Azizbek Haydarov, right, better get his celebrating in with teammates while he can – Al Shabab have withdrawn the offer on a contract extension.
Azizbek Haydarov, right, better get his celebrating in with teammates while he can – Al Shabab have withdrawn the offer on a contract extension.

DUBAI // Al Shabab have decided to jettison two of their foreign players at the end of the season.

The Brazilian striker Kieza will not be given a new deal and an offer to extend the contract of Azizbek Haydarov, the Uzbek midfielder, has been withdrawn.

The case against Kieza is simple:the forward has failed to score in his last three Pro League matches and is yet to open his account in the Asian Champions League.

As for the Uzbekistani international, he is said to have made financial demands that are "excessive"  to the club.

According to club sources, Haydarov is demanding US$2 million (Dh7.34m) to commit to another season.

"We will be looking for two new players for the next season," the source said. "If we qualify for the second round of the Champions League, we could also be looking for a third player as [Carlos] Villanueva is out for six months."

Teams are allowed to make changes to their foreign contingent upon the completion of the group stage and ahead of the knockout phase.

This situation could become clearer tonight when Shabab meet Al Hilal in Riyadh, hoping to secure their elusive first Champions League win of the season and resuscitate their hopes of making it into the second round.

Shabab are anchored at the bottom of Group D, with two points from their first three matches, and travelled to Saudi Arabia without the injured playmaker Villanueva, the defender Essa Mohammed and the striker Suroor Salem.

Paulo Bonamigo, the coach, is determined that his side will not meekly exit the competition.

"We have to fight really hard if we want to keep our chances alive," he said Monday. "We are here in Riyadh to get the three points we did not win at home. We know the quality of Hilal and we know how difficult our task is, but we are not scared. We will keep fighting, keep trying.

"The only way we can qualify is by getting positive results in our two away matches and that is what we will try to get."

Haydarov returns to the Shabab team on Tuesday night after missing the 1-1 draw against Hilal in Dubai two weeks ago while Ciel, who missed the 2-0 Pro League defeat at Al Jazira on Friday, will also start.

The coach accepts that despite Kieza's barren run much will be expected of the Brazilian but said: "No doubt, there is pressure on him; but we are not adding to it. If he performs for the team, that is more important for me than him just scoring goals and not helping the team. We are trying to give him confidence, to encourage him. Goals will come if he keeps working hard.

"In every league in the world, in every team, you will see that the best strikers miss chances. The important thing for me is that we are creating those chances, getting in situations where we can score goals."

Ivan Hasek, Bonamigo's opposite number, is facing a similar problem with his strikers and he said: "In every match, we created plenty of chances but could not score."

Hasek, who began the season with the Dubai side Al Ahli and is under pressure to keep his latest job, is another coach who is not happy about the results of his team in Asia this year and is keen to make amends.

"We have three more matches and we will do our best to win all three matches," Hasek said. "We still have a chance of qualifying for the second round. The group has not been decided yet. So we need to stay focused."

Persepolis are top of the group with seven points and are almost assured one of the two places from the group in the knockout stages. Hilal, Al Gharafa and Shabab are fighting for the second spot.

Two of Shabab's remaining three group matches are away.


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